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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 holidays, it most likely feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. That’s the charm (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to check in on everyone and see what they’ve been doing!

But when you have hearing loss, those family get-togethers may seem a little less inviting. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family get-togethers?

Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and enjoyable 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 are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

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

Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead

Zoom calls can be an excellent way to stay in touch with friends and family. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.

Phones present an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be really difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that can definitely be aggravating. You won’t have better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s important to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase too.
  • Your friends and family to talk a little slower.
  • Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).

People will be less likely to become annoyed when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. Communication will flow better as a result.

Pick your locations of conversation carefully

During the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any sensitive subject matter. In a similar way, you should try to carefully select areas that are quieter for talking.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That may mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.
  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
  • Attempt to find places that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.
  • Try to find well lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on context clues or read lips.

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

  • Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less happening. Be sure to mention 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 someplace where it’s a little quieter.

Communicate with the flight crew

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

When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. It’s essential 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 problems hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with extra visual instructions. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You might find yourself getting more tired or exhausted than you once did. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. 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 affected by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a considerable impact on relationships.

One of the major advantages of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family over the holidays smoother and more rewarding. And no more asking people what they said.

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

Remember that it may take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to get them. Of course, everyone’s experience will differ. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

It can seem like you’re alone sometimes, and that no one understands what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. It’s as if hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But there’s help. 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 harder. During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right approach.

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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.