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

Gatherings. So many family gatherings.

It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Normally, this kind of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to reunite with everyone and see what they’re up to!

But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family gatherings might seem a little less inviting. Why is that? What are the impacts 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 discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant by using a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s a lot to see during the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and 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 pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.

These tips are designed to help make sure you keep having all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. If you have hearing loss, this is especially true. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of standard phone calls.

Phones represent an interesting conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication challenges. 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 have better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help determine what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls offer additional context, and that can help the conversation flow better.

Tell people the truth

Hearing loss is incredibly common. It’s important to tell people if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

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

When people are aware that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get aggravated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.

Find some quiet areas for conversing

Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. When you have hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

deal with it like this:

  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Perhaps that means moving away from the noisy television or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
  • For this reason, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • Try to find spots that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more successfully.

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece begins talking to you? There are a few things you can do in situations like these:

  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less going on. And don’t forget to let her know this is what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.

Speak to the flight crew

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

When families are spread out, many people need to fly somewhere. It’s essential that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual instructions. 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 may find yourself growing more tired or exhausted than you used to. As a result, it’s essential to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.

Invest in some hearing aids

How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.

One of the greatest benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays easier and more satisfying. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.

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

It could 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. Naturally, everybody’s experience will differ. So talk to us about the timing.

You don’t need to navigate the holidays alone

It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you’re not alone. We can help you get through many of these challenges.

Holidays can be hard enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even more difficult. With the correct 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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