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 holiday season. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Normally, this type of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.

But those family get-togethers might feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?

Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be especially 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 fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s so much to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and 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 promoted, it keeps going.

These tips are developed to help make sure you keep having all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.

Steer clear of phone calls – instead, use video calls.

Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can sound garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. You won’t get clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide added context, and that can help the conversation flow better.

Tell people the truth

Hearing loss is very common. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

  • A quieter place to have conversations.
  • People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase too.
  • Your friends and family to speak a little slower.

People will be less likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they know that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little bit smoother.

Find some quiet areas for talking

During the holidays, there are always topics 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 talk about any sensitive subject matter. In a similar way, you should try to carefully choose spaces that are quieter for talking.

Handle it like this:

  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to deal with.
  • There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means moving away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
  • Try to find areas that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
  • Attempt to find brightly lit places for this same reason. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.

Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? There are a couple of things you can do in situations like these:

  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.
  • Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less going on. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
  • If there’s music playing in the area, politely ask the host to turn the music down so you can hear your niece a little better.

Speak to the flight crew

So what about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.

When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. It’s essential that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra significant to tell the flight crew that you have difficulty hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual guidelines. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You might find yourself getting more tired or exhausted than you once did. So taking regular breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.

Get some hearing aids

How does hearing loss affect relationships? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!

One of the major advantages of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family over the holidays smoother and more fulfilling. And, the best part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat what they said.

In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.

Keep in mind that it may take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.

You don’t have to navigate the holidays by yourself

It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody understands what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But you’re not alone. You can get through many of the difficulties with our help.

Holidays can be difficult enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even more difficult. At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the correct approach.

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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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