Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
It probably seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) for this reason. Typically, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to check in on everyone and find out what they’ve been doing!
But those family gatherings might feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?
Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The end result can be a disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing experience when it occurs around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant when you employ a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s so much to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also so much to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.
During holiday get-togethers, use these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.
Steer clear of phone calls – instead, use video calls.
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of traditional phone calls.
Phones represent a difficult conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound garbled and hard to understand, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply additional context, and that can help the conversation flow better.
Be honest with people
Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s important to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.
- People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase as well.
People won’t be as likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they know that you have hearing loss. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Pick your areas of conversation wisely
During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those individuals 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 spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Handle it like this:
- Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That might 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 conversations in areas that are well-lit. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
- Attempt to find places that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).
- When you find a spot 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 filling your mug with holiday cocoa? In cases like this, there are a few things you can do:
- Quietly lead your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
Communicate with the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less obvious? You know, the ones you may not see coming?
When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s crucial to comprehend all the instructions and communication provided by 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 important that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You may find yourself growing more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. So taking regular breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Consider getting hearing aids
How does hearing loss affect relationships? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!
Every conversation with your family during the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat what they said.
Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.
It could take a little time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everybody’s experience will differ. So speak with us about the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can seem like you’re alone sometimes, and that no one understands what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
Holidays can be hard enough even under typical circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even harder. During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right approach.