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

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

During the holiday seasons, it most likely seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) because of this. Normally, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to find out what everybody’s been up to all year.

But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family get-togethers may seem a little less inviting. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant when you employ a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

Around 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 memorable moments.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family. If you have hearing loss, this is particularly true. 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.

Phones represent a difficult conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice on the other end can sound muffled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Tell people the truth

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

  • People to slow down a little when speaking with you.
  • People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase also.
  • A quieter place to talk.

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

Pick your areas of conversation carefully

You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to mention it. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • You’re seeking spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you lip read as a result).
  • There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. That may mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud football game on the TV.
  • Try to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece begins talking to you? There are a couple of things you can do in cases like these:

  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
  • 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.
  • Politely start walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be sure to explain that’s what you’re doing.

Communicate with the flight crew

So what about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s essential to understand all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain to tell them about your hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently than before. This means that it’s important to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a break.

Invest in some hearing aids

How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.

Every conversation with your family through the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. 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.

It could take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until just before the holidays to pick them up. Everybody will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.

You don’t have to get through the holidays alone

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 impacting your personality in this way. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these challenges.

The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they usually are). With the correct 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.