Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
It probably feels 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 curse) of the holiday season. Usually, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to check in on everyone and see what they’ve been doing!
But those family gatherings may feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?
Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be especially discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated 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
During the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.
During holiday get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable memories.
Avoid phone calls – use video instead
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones represent a particular challenge. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, and that can certainly be aggravating. You won’t have better 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 supply added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.
Tell people the truth
It isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase as well.
- People to slow down a little bit when speaking with you.
- Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
People won’t be as 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.
Find some quiet spaces for talking
You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to mention it. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Handle it like this:
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy television or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
- Try to find well lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
- 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.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece starts talking to you? There are a couple of things you can do in situations like these:
- Ask your niece to carry on the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
- Quietly lead your niece to a spot that has less going on. And don’t forget to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
Communicate with the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings that are less apparent? You know, the ones you may not see coming?
When families are spread out, lots of people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s essential to understand all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. Which is why it’s extra essential to tell the flight crew that you have difficulty hearing or have hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!
When you have hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of effort. You might find yourself getting more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. So taking regular breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a break.
Consider getting hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a significant affect on relationships.
One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family during the holidays smoother and more fulfilling. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Keep in mind that it could take you some time to get used to your 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 can get help navigating the holidays
It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. It’s like hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But you aren’t 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 need hearing loss to make it even harder. During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the right strategy.