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 uncle every other weekend. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to learn what everybody’s been doing all year.

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

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be particularly disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant when you employ a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much 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.

During holiday gatherings, use these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch. 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 reach out to loved ones throughout the holidays.

Phones present a difficult dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues 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 flow better.

Be honest with people

It isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
  • People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase also.
  • Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).

When people know that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.

Find some quiet spaces for conversing

You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any delicate subject matter. Similarly, you should try to cautiously select areas that are quieter for talking.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That could mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud football game on the TV.
  • Attempt to find well lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
  • Attempt to find areas that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.
  • When you find a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.

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

  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Politely start walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.

Communicate with the flight crew

So what about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s especially important for families that are fairly spread out. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra essential to tell the flight crew that you have difficulty hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual guidelines. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

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

Consider getting hearing aids

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

One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays easier and more satisfying. 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 some 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. So speak with us about the timing.

You don’t need to get through 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 by yourself. 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 dilemmas.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). With the right approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around 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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