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

So, so many family celebrations.

It probably seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Usually, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to learn what everybody’s been doing all year.

But those family gatherings may feel less welcoming when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?

Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The end result can be a disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing sensation when it occurs around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated 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 around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.

These tips are meant to help be certain that you keep having 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 keep in touch with family and friends. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones represent a particular challenge. It can be very difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide added 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 crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
  • Your friends and family to speak a bit slower.

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

Find some quiet areas for conversing

You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to mention it. Similarly, you should try to cautiously select spaces that are quieter for conversations.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • By the same token, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
  • 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 areas in the home where you have conversations. Perhaps that means moving away from the noisy television or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
  • You’re seeking spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece starts talking to you? In situations like this, there are a few things you can do:

  • 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 someplace quieter to chat.
  • Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less going on. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.

Speak to the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less obvious? You know, the ones you may not see coming?

When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

When you are dealing with hearing loss, communication can be a lot of work. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently than you used to. This means that it’s essential to take regular breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.

Consider investing in hearing aids

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

One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family during the holidays easier and more fulfilling. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.

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

Remember that it may take you some time to get used to your hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everybody will have a different experience. So speak with us about the timing.

You don’t have to get through the holidays by yourself

It can feel like you’re by yourself sometimes, and that nobody understands 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 challenges.

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 family and friends. All you need is the correct 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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