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

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 challenging) because of this. Usually, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to learn what everybody’s been up to all year.

But when you have hearing loss, those family get-togethers might seem a little less inviting. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact 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 resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely disheartening and distressing 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

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

These tips are designed to help make sure 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 stay 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 throughout the holidays.

Phones represent an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel muffled and difficult to understand, and that can definitely be frustrating. You won’t get clearer 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 incredibly common. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase also.
  • Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
  • People to slow down a little when talking with you.

People will be less likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. Communication will flow better as a result.

Choose your locations of conversation carefully

You will always want to steer clear of certain subjects of conversation during the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.

deal with it like this:

  • By the same token, keep your conversations in settings that are well-lit. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
  • When you choose a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Possibly that means sneaking away from the noisy television or excusing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
  • Attempt to find spots that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.

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:

  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation someplace where it’s a bit quieter.
  • Politely start walking towards a spot where you can hear and focus better. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.

Communicate with the flight crew

So what about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly significant for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s crucial to comprehend all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s really important to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or experience hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if necessary. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communication can be a lot of work. You will frequently find yourself exhausted more frequently than before. So taking regular breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.

Consider getting hearing aids

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

Every conversation with your family during 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 keep asking people to repeat what they said.

Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.

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

You don’t need to get through the holidays by yourself

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like nobody understands what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all by yourself. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these challenges.

Holidays can be difficult enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even harder. With the proper approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around 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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