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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.

During the holidays, it probably feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. That’s the appeal (and, some might say, the bane) of the holiday season. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to reunite with everyone and see what they’ve been doing!

But those family gatherings may feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially disturbing experience when it occurs around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s a lot to see during the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also so much to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

During holiday gatherings, use these tips to get through and make more unforgettable memories.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family. That’s particularly 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 standard phone calls.

Phones represent a difficult conundrum when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be really hard to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, 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. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply additional context, and that will help the conversation have a better flow.

Tell people the truth

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

  • People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase as well.
  • People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
  • Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).

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

Find some quiet spaces for conversing

You will always want to steer clear of certain subjects of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any sensitive subject matter. In a similar way, you should try to cautiously pick areas that are quieter for conversations.

deal with it like this:

  • When you choose a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to deal with.
  • Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That could mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud football game on the TV.
  • For this reason, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. If there isn’t enough 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 going by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger 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 hot chocolate? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to talk.
  • Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less happening. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.

Communicate with the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings that aren’t as apparent? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?

Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s particularly significant for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to understand all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain to tell them about your hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual instructions. When you’re flying, it’s essential not to miss anything!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of effort. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently than you used to. So taking frequent breaks is essential. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a break.

Get some hearing aids

How does hearing loss affect relationships? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!

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

In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.

Keep in mind that it may take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everyone’s experience will be different. So speak with us about the timing.

You can get help navigating the holidays

It can feel as if you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss affects your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.

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