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

Gatherings. So many family gatherings.

During the holiday seasons, it probably feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) for this reason. Normally, this sort of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to reunite with everyone and find out what they’ve been doing!

But when you have hearing loss, those family get-togethers might seem a little less inviting. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family get-togethers?

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant by using a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also so much to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.

These tips are meant to help be certain that you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.

Avoid phone calls – use video instead

Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with family and friends. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones represent a particular obstacle. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, and that can certainly be aggravating. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help determine what’s being said. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Tell people the truth

It’s not uncommon for people to have hearing loss. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase too.
  • Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
  • Your family and friends to speak a little slower.

When people recognize that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will have a better flow as a result.

Find some quiet areas for conversing

You will always want to steer clear of 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 delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
  • By the same token, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on context clues or read lips.
  • Attempt to find areas that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That could mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous football game on the TV.

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece begins talking to you? 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.
  • Politely begin walking towards a spot where you can hear and concentrate better. And don’t forget to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.

Speak to the flight crew

So how about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you may not see coming?

Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially important for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. Which is why it’s really significant to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or have hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of effort. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. This means that it’s essential to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.

Invest in some hearing aids

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

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

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

It could take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everybody’s experience will be different. 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 understands 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 there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.

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

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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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