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

So, so many family get-togethers.

It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the charm (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Normally, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to learn what everyone’s been doing all year.

But those family get-togethers may feel less welcoming 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 resulting experience of alienation can be especially disheartening and stressful 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 decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also a lot 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, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.

Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

Phones represent a difficult conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice on the other end can sound muffled and hard to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues 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 very common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:

  • People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase also.
  • Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.
  • A quieter place to have conversations.

When people know that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit smoother.

Choose your locations of conversation wisely

You will always want to avoid certain subjects of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re cautious 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 carefully pick areas that are quieter for conversations.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. That might mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that loud football game on the TV.
  • You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
  • By the same token, keep your conversations in areas that are well-lit. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.

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

  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
  • Politely start walking towards a spot where you can hear and focus 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.

Speak to the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings that aren’t as obvious? You know, the ones you may not see coming?

Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly important for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to comprehend all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. Which is why it’s extra crucial to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or have hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual instructions. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!

Take breaks

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

Consider investing in hearing aids

How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a considerable impact on relationships.

Every conversation with your family through the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat themselves.

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

It could take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until right before the holidays to get them. Naturally, everyone’s experience will differ. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

It can feel as if you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. It’s like hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But you’re not alone. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.

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