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

So, so many family get-togethers.

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 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 have hearing loss, those family gatherings may seem a little less inviting. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings?

Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially distressing sensation when it occurs around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant when you employ a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

During the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much 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.

These tips are designed to help be certain that you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday gatherings.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. Try using video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones throughout the holidays.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular challenge. The voice on the other end can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that can definitely be aggravating. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out 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. It’s essential to tell people if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

  • People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase too.
  • Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
  • People to slow down a little when talking with you.

When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little bit smoother.

Select your locations of conversation wisely

You will always want to avoid certain subjects of conversation during the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any delicate subject matter. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • Attempt to find places that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • Attempt to find brightly 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.
  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
  • Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Politely start walking to a spot where you can hear and concentrate better. And don’t forget to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to talk.

Communicate with the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less apparent? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

When families are spread out, many people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to comprehend all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s really important to tell the flight crew that you have difficulty hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with additional visual guidelines. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communication can become a lot of work. You will frequently find yourself exhausted more often than before. So taking regular breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, maybe 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 many ways!

One of the greatest 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.

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

Remember that it could take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until just before the holidays to pick them up. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. So speak with us about the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

It can feel like you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss affects your personality. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.

Holidays can be tough enough even under typical circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even more difficult. At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the correct strategy.

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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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