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. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) because of this. Normally, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to check in on everybody and find out what they’ve been doing!
But those family gatherings 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 effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially distressing experience when it happens around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant by using a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s a lot to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.
These tips are meant to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.
Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to keep in touch. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. Try using video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones during the holidays.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can sound muffled and hard to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Tell people the truth
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- A quieter place to have conversations.
- People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase too.
- People to slow down a bit when talking with you.
When people recognize that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little bit smoother.
Pick your areas of conversation carefully
During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to bring it up. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means moving away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- Try to find spots that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the individuals speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).
- By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
- When you find a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece begins talking to you? There are a few things you can do in situations like these:
- Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less going on. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
Speak to the flight crew
So what about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?
When families are spread out, many people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with extra visual guidelines. When you’re flying, it’s essential not to miss anything!
When you have hearing loss, communicating can be a lot of effort. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. So taking regular breaks is essential. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.
Consider getting hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in a lot of ways!
One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family over the holidays smoother and more rewarding. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Remember that it may take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Everybody will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
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 impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or nervousness (that is, any more than they usually are). With the right strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.