Hearing Health Blog

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

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

It likely feels 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 difficult) because of this. Typically, this kind of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to reunite with everybody and find out what they’ve been doing!

But those family get-togethers may feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings?

Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s 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 fulfilling and pleasant by using a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.

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 are not only things to see, but also things 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 designed to help make sure you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday gatherings.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

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

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular challenge. The voice on the other end can feel muffled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call vexing indeed. You won’t get clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

Hearing loss is very common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:

  • People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase as well.
  • Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
  • Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.

When people recognize that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little smoother.

Pick your locations of conversation wisely

Throughout the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any sensitive subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

deal with it like this:

  • You’re looking for areas with less commotion. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That may mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud sporting event on the TV.
  • For this reason, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be capable of picking up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • When you find a place to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.

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? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Politely begin walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. And don’t forget to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.

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, lots of people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to comprehend all the directions 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 provide you with extra visual guidelines. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of work. You will frequently find yourself exhausted more frequently than before. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a break.

Get some hearing aids

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

One of the greatest benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family during the holidays smoother and more satisfying. And, the best part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.

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

It might take a little 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. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t have to navigate the holidays by yourself

When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel like nobody can relate to 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 there’s help. You can navigate many of the difficulties with our help.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they usually are). With the proper strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during 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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