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 feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. That’s the appeal (and, some might say, the curse) of the holiday season. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to learn what everybody’s been up to all year.

But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family gatherings may feel a little less welcoming. Why is that? What are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly disturbing experience when it happens around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated 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 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.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a great way to stay in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can feel garbled and hard to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help determine 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

Hearing loss is incredibly common. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
  • People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.

People will be less likely to become annoyed when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit easier.

Pick your areas of conversation carefully

Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any sensitive subject matter. Similarly, you should try to cautiously select areas that are quieter for talking.

Handle it like this:

  • You’re seeking spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. If there isn’t enough 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 moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? There are a couple of things you can do in situations like these:

  • Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.
  • 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.

Communicate with the flight crew

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

Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly significant for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to comprehend all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be certain to let them know about your hearing loss. In this 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 frequently find yourself exhausted more frequently than before. So taking frequent breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, perhaps 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 at this point, in a lot of ways!

One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family during the holidays easier and more satisfying. And, the greatest 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.

Bear in mind that it may take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until just before the holidays to pick them up. Everyone will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.

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

It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. It’s like hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of trepidation or nervousness (that is, any more than they normally are). With the correct strategy, 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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