So, so many family celebrations.
During the holiday seasons, it probably feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. That’s the charm (and, some might say, the bane) of the holiday season. Usually, this type of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to check in on everybody and find out what they’ve been doing!
But those family get-togethers may feel less inviting when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The result can be a disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially disturbing feeling when it occurs during the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and enjoyable by using 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 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.
These tips are developed to help be certain that you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday get-togethers.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family. 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 traditional phone calls.
Phones present an interesting dilemma with regards to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call vexing indeed. 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
It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
- Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.
When people are aware that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit smoother.
Find some quiet spaces for talking
You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any delicate subject matter. In a similar way, you should try to carefully select spaces that are quieter for conversations.
Here’s how to handle it:
- For this reason, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- When you find a spot to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Perhaps that means moving away from the noisy television or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- You’re seeking areas with less commotion. 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 cocoa mug, and your niece starts talking to you? There are a few things you can do in situations like these:
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
- Quietly lead your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be sure to mention that’s 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.
Speak to the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings that aren’t as obvious? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
When families are spread out, lots of people have to fly somewhere. It’s essential that you can understand all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra significant to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if necessary. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You might find yourself growing more tired or exhausted than you used to. As a result, it’s essential to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Consider getting hearing aids
How does hearing loss affect relationships? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!
One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family over the holidays easier and more fulfilling. And no more asking people what they said.
Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.
It might take a little time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help getting through the holidays
It can feel like you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these challenges.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they normally are). With the correct approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.