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

So, so many family get-togethers.

During the holiday seasons, it most likely seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative 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 yearly catching up. You get to check in on everybody and see what they’re up to!

But when you have hearing loss, those family gatherings might seem a little less welcoming. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family get-togethers?

Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially discouraging and stressful around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, 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 your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.

During holiday get-togethers, use these tips to get through and make more memorable memories.

Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead

Zoom calls can be an excellent way to keep in touch with family and friends. That’s particularly 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 present a particular challenge. It can be very difficult to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help figure out what’s being said. 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 have hearing loss. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

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

People will be less likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they understand that you have hearing loss. Communication will flow better as a result.

Find some quiet areas for conversing

You will always want to avoid certain subjects of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to talk about any sensitive subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully steer clear of specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • Try to find areas that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the individuals speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).
  • Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
  • Try to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That may mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud football game on the TV.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with holiday cocoa? In situations like this, there are a few things you can do:

  • Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.
  • Politely start walking to a spot where you can hear and focus better. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.
  • 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.

Speak to 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 sneak up on you.

When families are spread out, lots of people have to fly somewhere. It’s important 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 difficulty hearing or experience hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than before. So taking frequent breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, maybe more significantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.

Invest in some hearing aids

How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!

Every interaction with your family over the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And, the best part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.

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

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

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

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if no one can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to get through it all alone. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you aren’t alone. You can get through many of the difficulties with our help.

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