Hearing Health Blog

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 holidays. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Normally, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to learn what everyone’s been doing all year.

But those family get-togethers might feel less inviting when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings?

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially distressing sensation when it happens during the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant when you employ a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s a lot to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also a lot to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

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

Use video chat instead of phone calls

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

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones represent a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can sound muffled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call vexing indeed. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help determine what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide additional context, and that can help the conversation flow better.

Tell people the truth

Hearing loss is incredibly common. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking 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 friends and family to speak a bit slower.

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

Pick 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 mention touchy subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to mention it. In a similar way, you should try to cautiously pick spaces that are quieter for talking.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • Attempt to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be able to pick up on context clues or read lips.
  • You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • When you find a place to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to deal with.
  • Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Possibly that means sneaking away from the noisy television or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.

Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with holiday cocoa? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Politely begin walking towards an area of the gathering place where you can hear and concentrate better. And don’t forget to let her know this is what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.

Speak to the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings 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 important that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra essential to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or have hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can offer you visual instructions if necessary. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more often than you used to. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Get some hearing aids

How does hearing loss impact relationships? Well, as should be clear by now, in a lot of ways!

One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family through the holidays smoother and more satisfying. And, the best part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat what they said.

In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.

Remember that it could take you some time to get used to your hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everyone’s experience will differ. So talk to us about the timing.

You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone

It can feel as if you’re alone sometimes, and that no one understands what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. 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 need hearing loss to make it even harder. 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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