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

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

During the holiday seasons, it probably feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative every other weekend. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Typically, this sort of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to reunite with everybody and see what they’re up to!

But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family gatherings might seem a little less inviting. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly disturbing experience when it occurs during the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s so much to see during the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also a lot 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 designed to help be certain that you keep having all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

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

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular challenge. It can be very difficult to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, and that makes what should be a pleasant 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. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide additional context, and that will help the conversation have a better flow.

Be honest with people

It isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
  • Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
  • Your family and friends to speak a little slower.

People won’t be as likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they know that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit smoother.

Find some quiet spaces for talking

You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any sensitive subject matter. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

deal with it like this:

  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to deal with.
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Possibly that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
  • For this reason, keep your conversations in settings that are well-lit. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
  • You’re looking for areas with less commotion. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.

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 situations 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.
  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
  • Quietly lead 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 what about less apparent effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. It’s essential that you can comprehend all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be certain to let them know about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can offer you visual instructions if needed. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You might find yourself getting more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. So taking frequent breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Get some hearing aids

How does hearing loss impact relationships? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!

Every conversation with your family during the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.

Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.

It could take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if no one understands what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all alone. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.

The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or nervousness (that is, any more than they usually are). At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right strategy.

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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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