Family enjoying Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner together around the dining table at grandmother's home.

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

It probably seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the charm (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Normally, this kind of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to reunite with everyone and see what they’ve been doing!

But those family gatherings might feel less welcoming when you’re dealing with hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?

Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely disheartening and stressful around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

During the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also a lot to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

These tips are meant to help be certain that you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones throughout the holidays.

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can sound garbled and difficult to understand, and that can certainly be aggravating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply additional context, and that will help the conversation have a better flow.

Tell people the truth

It isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to slow down a little bit when speaking with you.
  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
  • Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).

When people know that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to become annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit easier.

Find some quiet areas for conversing

Throughout the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re careful not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to filter through.
  • Attempt to find places that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more successfully.
  • By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
  • Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That may mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.

Okay, okay, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Quietly lead your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be certain to mention that’s what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation someplace where it’s a bit quieter.

Speak to the flight crew

So what about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you may not see coming?

When families are spread out, lots of people have to fly somewhere. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really essential to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or have hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communication can be a lot of effort. You might find yourself getting more tired or exhausted than you once did. So taking frequent breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a break.

Consider investing in hearing aids

How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.

One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays easier and more satisfying. And no more asking people what they said.

Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.

It may take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if no one can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to get through it all by yourself. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.

Holidays can be tough enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even harder. With the proper strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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