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

Gatherings. So many family gatherings.

It likely feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) because of this. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to reunite with everybody and find out what they’re up to!

But those family get-togethers might feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?

Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially distressing 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 during 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 pick-up basketball 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

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is especially true. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.

Phones represent an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, and that can certainly be frustrating. You won’t have better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

It’s not 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:

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

When people know that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to get aggravated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little easier.

Find some quiet areas for talking

You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. Similarly, you should try to carefully choose areas that are quieter for conversations.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • 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 pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That could mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.
  • Attempt to find well lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be capable of picking up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • You’re looking for areas with less commotion. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.

Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? In cases 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 talk.
  • 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.

Communicate with the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers that aren’t as apparent? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

When families are spread out, many people need to fly somewhere. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be certain to let them know about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s essential not to miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You might find yourself growing more tired or exhausted than you once did. As a result, it’s important to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Get some hearing aids

How does hearing loss impact relationships? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!

Every interaction with your family during the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And no more asking people what they said.

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

It may take some 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 navigating the holidays

It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody understands what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. It’s like hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these challenges.

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