Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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

So, so many family celebrations.

During the holiday seasons, it most likely feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Usually, this kind of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to find out what everyone’s been up to all year.

But those family gatherings may feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings?

Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s lots to see during 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 promoted, it keeps going.

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

Use video chat instead of phone calls

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

Phones present an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel garbled and hard to understand, and that can certainly be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Tell people the truth

Hearing loss is incredibly common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

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

People will be less likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they understand that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit easier.

Find some quiet spaces for talking

You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.

deal with it like this:

  • Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That may mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud sporting event on the TV.
  • Try to find places that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • Attempt to find well lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
  • When you choose a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to filter through.

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

  • Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less happening. And don’t forget to make her aware this is 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.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.

Communicate with the flight crew

So what about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.

Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly significant for families that are fairly spread out. 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 problems hearing or have hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if necessary. When you’re flying, it’s essential not to miss anything!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communicating can be a lot of effort. You may find yourself getting more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. This means that it’s important 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.

Every interaction with your family over 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 continue to ask people to repeat themselves.

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

Remember that it may take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until just before the holidays to get them. Everybody will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t have to get through the holidays by yourself

It can feel as if you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re dealing with 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 navigate many of these challenges.

Holidays can be difficult enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even more difficult. During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the correct 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.
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