So, so many family get-togethers.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) because of this. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to reunite with everybody and find out what they’re up to!
But those family get-togethers may feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant when you employ a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s lots to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also so much 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 designed to help be certain that you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday get-togethers.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a good way to stay in touch. If you have 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 throughout the holidays.
Phones present an interesting dilemma with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound garbled and hard to understand, and that can definitely be frustrating. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help determine what’s being said. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase too.
- People to slow down a bit when talking with you.
- Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
When people know that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to become annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Choose your locations of conversation carefully
You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to talk about any sensitive subject matter. Similarly, you should try to cautiously pick areas that are quieter for conversations.
Here’s how to handle it:
- Try to find places that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
- When you find a spot to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
- Try to find brightly lit places for this same reason. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That might mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud football game on the TV.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece begins talking to you? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Politely start walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be certain to mention 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.
- Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
Communicate with the flight crew
So what about less apparent effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you may not see coming?
Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially essential for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be certain to let them know about your hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual instructions. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!
When you have hearing loss, communication can be a lot of work. You may find yourself growing more fatigued or exhausted than you once did. So taking regular breaks is essential. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Get some hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!
One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays smoother and more rewarding. And no more asking people what they said.
Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It may take a little time to get used to your new hearing aids. So don’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 get through the holidays alone
When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if no one understands what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all by yourself. It’s as if hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these challenges.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they normally are). At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the right approach.