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

Gatherings. So many family gatherings.

During the holidays, it probably feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. That’s the charm (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Typically, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.

But those family get-togethers may feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?

Hearing loss can impede your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be particularly discouraging and stressful around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant by using a few go-to tips formulated 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 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.

During holiday get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

Zoom calls can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

Phones present an interesting conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be very hard to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can certainly 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. From body language to facial expressions, video calls offer additional context, and that will help the conversation flow better.

Be honest with people

Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

  • People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase also.
  • People to slow down a little bit when speaking with you.
  • Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).

When people recognize that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to become annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit easier.

Pick your areas of conversation wisely

During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to mention it. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.

Here’s how to deal with it:

  • Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
  • For this reason, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
  • Attempt to find spots that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.
  • Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Perhaps that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.

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

  • Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be sure to explain that’s what you’re doing.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
  • 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.

Communicate with 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 don’t see coming?

Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s particularly important for families that are fairly spread out. 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 crucial to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with extra visual instructions. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself exhausted more often than before. So taking regular breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Consider getting hearing aids

How does hearing loss affect relationships? Hearing loss has a significant affect on relationships.

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

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

It might take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until just before the holidays to get them. Of course, everyone’s experience will be different. So speak with us about the timing.

You can get help navigating the holidays

It can feel as if you’re by yourself sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these challenges.

Holidays can be tough enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even harder. With the correct strategy, 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.
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