So, so many family celebrations.
During the holidays, it most likely seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative every other weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) for this reason. Usually, this sort of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to reunite with everyone and see what they’ve been doing!
But those family get-togethers might feel less inviting when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?
Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant 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’s also so much to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.
These tips are developed to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday get-togethers.
Avoid phone calls – use video instead
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to stay 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 over the holidays, try utilizing 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 certainly be frustrating. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help figure out what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide additional context, and that can help the conversation flow better.
Tell people the truth
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to slow down a bit when talking with you.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- A quieter place to talk.
When people know that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get aggravated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little smoother.
Pick your locations of conversation carefully
During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. 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 cautiously select areas that are quieter for talking.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- Try to find areas that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).
- Try to find brightly lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means moving away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
Okay, okay, 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 couple of 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.
- Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less going on. And don’t forget to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
Communicate with the flight crew
So what about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially essential for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to comprehend all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be sure to tell them about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!
When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of work. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently than you used to. This means that it’s important to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Invest in some hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a significant affect on relationships.
One of the greatest advantages 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.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Remember that it may take you some time to get used to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everybody’s experience will be different. So talk to us about the timing.
You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone
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 alone. It’s like hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But you’re not alone. We can help you navigate 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 proper approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.