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

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

During the holidays, it probably seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative every other weekend. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) because of this. Normally, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to check in on everybody and find out what they’re up to!

But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family get-togethers might feel a little less inviting. What’s the reason for this? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings?

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly disturbing 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 fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.

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 Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

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

Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead

Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. Try using video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones represent a particular challenge. It can be really hard to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually improve, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

It isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. It’s essential to tell people if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

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

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

Choose your areas of conversation wisely

During the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any sensitive subject matter. Similarly, you should try to cautiously choose spaces that are quieter for talking.

deal with it like this:

  • Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
  • When you find a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to filter through.
  • For this reason, keep your conversations in areas that are well-lit. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be able to pick up on context clues or read lips.
  • You’re looking for spaces with less commotion. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more successfully.

Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • You can politely ask the host, if there is 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 talk.
  • Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.

Speak to the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers that aren’t as apparent? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?

When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s extra important to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual instructions. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You might find yourself growing more fatigued or exhausted than you once did. So taking frequent breaks is essential. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.

Consider getting hearing aids

How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear by now, in a lot of ways!

One of the greatest benefits of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family through 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 may take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everybody will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t need to navigate the holidays by yourself

It can feel like you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody understands what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But you aren’t alone. You can get through many of the difficulties with our help.

The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). 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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