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 relative every other weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also difficult) because of this. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to check in on everybody and see what they’ve been doing!

But those family get-togethers may feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially discouraging and stressful around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and enjoyable by using a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.

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 your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.

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

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones during the holidays.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular challenge. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call vexing indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Tell people the truth

Hearing loss is incredibly common. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

  • Your friends and family to talk a little slower.
  • People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase also.
  • Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).

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

Select your locations of conversation wisely

During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to mention it. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • By the same token, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
  • There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. Perhaps that means moving away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
  • When you find a spot to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to filter through.
  • Try to find places that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. 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 begins talking to you? There are a few things you can do in situations like these:

  • 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.
  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.
  • Quietly lead your niece to a spot that has less going on. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.

Communicate with the flight crew

So how about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?

Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially significant for families that are fairly spread out. It’s important that you can comprehend all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really important to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if necessary, 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 when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently 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 does hearing loss impact relationships? Well, as should be clear at this point, in a lot of ways!

One of the greatest benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family during the holidays smoother and more satisfying. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat themselves.

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

It may take a little time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if nobody understands what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all by yourself. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss affects your personality. But you’re not alone. We can help you get through many of these challenges.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they usually are). With the proper 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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