Family enjoying Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner together around the dining table at grandmother's home.

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the charm (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Typically, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to check in on everyone and find out what they’re up to!

But those family get-togethers might feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?

Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly effected 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 experience when it happens around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and enjoyable by using a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s a lot 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.

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

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a good way to keep in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. Try using video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones throughout the holidays.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can sound garbled and difficult to understand, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls offer additional context, and that can help the conversation flow better.

Be honest with people

Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s important to tell people if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • A quieter place to have conversations.
  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
  • Your friends and family to speak a little slower.

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

Find some quiet areas for conversing

During the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to steer clear of. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to bring it up. Similarly, you should try to carefully choose spaces that are quieter for conversations.

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 an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. That might mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.
  • Attempt to find places that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
  • Attempt to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.

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

  • Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
  • 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 happening. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.

Communicate with the flight crew

So how 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. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra crucial to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience 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 when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. So taking frequent breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a break.

Consider investing in hearing aids

How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear by now, in a lot of ways!

One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family through the holidays smoother and more rewarding. And no more asking people what they said.

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

It may take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until right before the holidays to get them. Everybody will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if nobody can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all alone. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you aren’t alone. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.

Holidays can be difficult enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need 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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