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

So, so many family celebrations.

It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the charm (and, some might say, the curse) of the holiday season. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to check in on everyone and see what they’re up to!

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

Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing feeling when it occurs during the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.

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 a lot to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

These tips are developed to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday gatherings.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

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

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. It can be very difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying 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 offer additional context, and that will help the conversation flow better.

Tell people the truth

It’s not uncommon for people to have hearing loss. It’s important to tell people if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

  • People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase also.
  • A quieter place to have conversations.
  • Your family and friends to talk a little slower.

People won’t be as likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they know that you have hearing loss. Communication will flow better as a result.

Find some quiet spaces for conversing

During the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re careful not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any sensitive subject matter. Similarly, you should try to carefully choose spaces that are quieter for conversations.

Handle it like this:

  • Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
  • Attempt to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.
  • Try to find places 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.
  • Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to deal with.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with holiday cocoa? There are a few things you can do in situations 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.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
  • Politely start walking towards a spot where you can hear and focus better. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.

Speak to the flight crew

So how about less apparent effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?

When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. It’s important that you can understand all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be sure to tell them about your hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with extra visual instructions. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communication can be a lot of effort. You will often find yourself exhausted more often than before. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Get some hearing aids

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

Every interaction with your family through 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 themselves.

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

It might take a little time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.

You can get help navigating the holidays

When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if no one can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to get through it all by yourself. It’s like hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.

Holidays can be difficult enough even under typical circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even harder. 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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