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 feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) because of this. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to learn what everyone’s been up to all year.

But those family gatherings may feel less inviting when you have hearing loss. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings?

Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially disturbing sensation when it happens around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling 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 decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also a lot to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.

During holiday get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.

Avoid phone calls – use video instead

For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a great way to stay in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones represent a particular obstacle. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Tell people the truth

Hearing loss is extremely common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:

  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
  • A quieter place to talk.
  • People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.

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

Select your locations of conversation carefully

You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to mention it. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • You’re looking for areas with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you lip read as a result).
  • Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. That could mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that loud sporting event on the TV.
  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to deal with.
  • For this reason, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece begins talking to you? In situations like this, there are a few things you can do:

  • Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less happening. And don’t forget to let her know this is what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a bit quieter.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.

Speak to the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings that are less apparent? You know, the ones you may not see coming?

Lots of people go on planes during the holidays, it’s especially essential for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual guidelines. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself exhausted more frequently than you used to. This means that it’s essential to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.

Invest in some hearing aids

How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.

Every interaction with your family during the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.

Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.

Bear in mind that it might 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. Of course, everyone’s experience will differ. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

It can feel 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 as if hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But you’re not alone. You can navigate many of the difficulties with our help.

Holidays can be tough enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even harder. At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the correct approach.

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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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