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

Gatherings. So many family gatherings.

During the holiday seasons, it most likely 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. Typically, this kind of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to find out what everybody’s been up to all year.

But those family get-togethers might feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. Why is that? What are the effects of hearing loss 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 disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing feeling when it occurs around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated 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 so much to see during the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.

These tips are designed to help be certain that you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.

Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.

Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with family and friends. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect 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 obstacle. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call vexing indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.

Tell people the truth

It’s not uncommon for people to have hearing loss. It’s important to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase as well.
  • People to slow down a bit when talking with you.
  • Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).

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

Select your areas of conversation wisely

Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re careful not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to talk about any delicate subject matter. Similarly, you should try to cautiously pick spaces that are quieter for talking.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to deal with.
  • For this reason, keep your conversations in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be capable of picking up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you lip read as a result).
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.

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

  • Politely start walking towards an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be certain to explain 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.
  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.

Communicate with the flight crew

So what about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.

Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly significant for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be sure to tell them about your hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual instructions. When you’re flying, it’s essential not to miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. So taking regular breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.

Consider investing in hearing aids

How does hearing loss affect relationships? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!

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

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

It could take a little time to get used to your new hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until just before the holidays to pick them up. Everybody will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

It can feel like 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 affecting your personality in this way. 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 right 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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