Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.
During the holidays, it most likely seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also difficult) because of this. Typically, this kind of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to check in on everyone and find out what they’ve been doing!
But those family gatherings 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 gatherings?
Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be especially disheartening and stressful around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and enjoyable by using a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.
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 so much to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.
During holiday get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with family and friends. 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 during the holidays.
Phones represent a difficult conundrum when it comes to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice on the other end can feel muffled and difficult to understand, and that can certainly be aggravating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.
Be honest with people
Hearing loss is very common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- Your family and friends to speak a bit slower.
- A quieter place to have conversations.
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.
Choose your areas of conversation wisely
You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation throughout 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. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
deal with it like this:
- Attempt to find places that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That could mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- Try to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? In cases like this, there are a few things you can do:
- 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 bit quieter.
- Quietly lead your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
Communicate with the flight crew
So what about less apparent effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?
When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain to let them know about your hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with additional visual instructions. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!
When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of effort. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. So taking regular breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Consider getting hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!
Every interaction with your family through the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat themselves.
Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.
It might take a little time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if no one understands what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all by yourself. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you’re not alone. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). With the right strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.