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

So, so many family get-togethers.

During the holidays, it probably feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other 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 find out what everyone’s been doing all year.

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

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, 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 are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

These tips are designed to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

Zoom calls can be a great way to stay in touch with family and friends. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is especially true. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.

Phones represent a difficult conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel muffled and hard to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. 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 extremely common. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • A quieter place to have conversations.
  • People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase as well.
  • People to slow down a little when talking with you.

When people recognize that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.

Find some quiet spaces for talking

Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re careful not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any delicate subject matter. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

deal with it like this:

  • Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. That might mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
  • When you choose a place to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
  • For this reason, keep your conversations in areas that are well-lit. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on context clues or read lips.
  • Try 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.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? There are a couple of things you can do in situations like these:

  • Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less going on. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there’s 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.

Speak to the flight crew

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

Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially significant for families that are fairly spread out. It’s essential that you can understand all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really crucial to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with extra visual instructions. It’s important 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 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 will get a break.

Consider getting hearing aids

How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a considerable affect on relationships.

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

Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.

Keep in mind that it may take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. So speak with us about the timing.

You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if nobody understands what you’re dealing with, and that you have to get through it all alone. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.

Holidays can be tough 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 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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