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

Gatherings. So many family gatherings.

It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. The holiday season can be fun (and also challenging) because of this. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to find out what everybody’s been doing all year.

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

Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be particularly discouraging and stressful around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and enjoyable by using a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s lots to see around 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 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 over the course of holiday get-togethers.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

Zoom calls can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. 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 touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular challenge. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound muffled and hard to understand, and that can certainly be aggravating. You won’t have 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 can help the conversation have a better flow.

Tell people the truth

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

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

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

Find some quiet areas for talking

You will always want to steer clear of certain subjects of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. In a similar way, you should try to cautiously pick areas that are quieter for conversations.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • When you find a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
  • There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
  • By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.
  • Try to find areas that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece starts talking to you? There are a couple of things you can do in cases 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.
  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
  • Politely start walking towards an area of the gathering place where you can hear and concentrate better. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.

Communicate with the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings that are less obvious? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.

When families are spread out, lots of people have 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 tell them about your hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with additional 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 might find yourself getting more tired or exhausted than you used to. This means that it’s important to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a break.

Consider getting hearing aids

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

One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family over the holidays smoother and more rewarding. And no more asking people what they said.

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

Remember that it could take you some time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Everybody will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if nobody can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to get through it all by yourself. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you aren’t alone. You can get through many of the challenges with our help.

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