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, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to reunite with everyone and see what they’ve been doing!
But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family gatherings might seem a little less inviting. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings?
Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely disheartening and stressful 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 during 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 second 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 memorable moments.
Steer clear of phone calls – instead, use video calls.
Zoom calls can be an excellent way to stay in touch with family and friends. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. Try using video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. It can be really hard to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide additional context, and that can help the conversation have a better flow.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is incredibly common. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
- A quieter place to have conversations.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
When people recognize that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re less likely to become aggravated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Find some quiet spaces for conversing
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 talk about any delicate subject matter. When you have hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around 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:
- Attempt to find spots that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.
- Try to find brightly lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- When you find a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That may mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud football game on the TV.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? There are a couple of things you can do in cases like these:
- 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 direct your niece to a place that has less going on. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a bit quieter.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less apparent effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you may not see coming?
When families are spread out, many people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be certain to let them know about your hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. This means that it’s important to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.
Invest in some hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!
Every interaction with your family during the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And, the best part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It could take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until just before the holidays to get them. Everybody will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.
You don’t need to get through the holidays by yourself
It can seem like you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. It’s like hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
Holidays can be difficult enough even under typical circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even harder. With the correct strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.