So, so many family get-togethers.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.
But those family gatherings might feel less welcoming when you’re dealing with 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 especially disheartening and stressful around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and enjoyable when you employ a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.
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 your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.
These tips are designed to help make sure you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday gatherings.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
Zoom calls can be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.
While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones represent a particular challenge. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel 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. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.
Tell people the truth
It’s not uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- A quieter place to have conversations.
- People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase also.
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little easier.
Pick your areas of conversation carefully
Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention touchy subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to mention it. Similarly, you should try to cautiously choose spaces that are quieter for talking.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
- Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy television or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- Try to find areas 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.
- Attempt to find well lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? 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.
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
- Politely start walking towards an area of the gathering place where you can hear and concentrate better. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
Speak to the flight crew
So what about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s essential to understand all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s really significant to tell the flight crew that you have difficulty hearing or have hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with additional visual guidelines. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently than before. As a result, it’s important to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.
Get some hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a significant affect on relationships.
One of the greatest benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays easier and more rewarding. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.
Keep in mind that it could take you some time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until just before the holidays to get them. Naturally, everyone’s experience will differ. But we can help you with the timing.
You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone
When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if nobody understands what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all alone. It’s like hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these challenges.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they typically are). With the right approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.