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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 holiday season. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) for this reason. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to learn what everyone’s been doing all year.

But those family gatherings may feel less welcoming when you’re dealing with hearing loss. 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 resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, and more fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.

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 school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

These tips are meant to help be certain that you keep having all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday get-togethers.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to keep in touch. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. 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.

Phones represent a difficult dilemma with regards to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that can certainly be aggravating. You won’t have better 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 will help the conversation flow better.

Tell people the truth

It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase too.
  • Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.
  • A quieter place to talk.

When people are aware that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re less likely to become aggravated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit smoother.

Find some quiet areas for conversing

Throughout the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Handle it like this:

  • You’re seeking spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • Try to find well lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be able to pick up on context clues or read lips.
  • When you find a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
  • Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Perhaps that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with holiday cocoa? In situations 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 direct your niece to a spot that has less going on. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to talk.

Communicate with the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings that aren’t as apparent? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

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

Take breaks

When you are dealing with hearing loss, communication can become a lot of effort. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more frequently than before. This means that it’s important to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Invest in some hearing aids

How does hearing loss affect relationships? Hearing loss has a considerable affect on relationships.

Every interaction with your family through the holidays will be benefited 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 might take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Everybody will have a different experience. So speak with us about the timing.

You can get help navigating the holidays

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if nobody can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all alone. It’s as if hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.

Holidays can be difficult 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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