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

So, so many family celebrations.

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 might say, the bane) of the holiday season. Typically, this type of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.

But when you have hearing loss, those family get-togethers may seem a little less welcoming. What’s the reason for this? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially disturbing experience when it occurs around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.

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 so much to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.

These tips are meant to help be certain that you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a good way to keep in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones during the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

Phones represent a difficult conundrum when it comes to hearing loss and communication challenges. It can be very difficult to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call vexing indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually get better, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply added context, and that can help the conversation have a better flow.

Tell people the truth

It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:

  • People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase too.
  • Your friends and family to talk a little slower.
  • A quieter place to talk.

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

Find some quiet areas for conversing

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

Handle it like this:

  • When you find a spot to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
  • Try to choose 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 raucous sporting event on the TV.
  • Try to find spots that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
  • Attempt to find brightly lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.

Okay, okay, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? There are a few things you can do in cases like these:

  • Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less happening. And don’t forget to let her know this is what you’re doing.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.

Communicate with the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less obvious? You know, the ones you may not see coming?

When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be certain to let them know about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You may find yourself getting more tired or exhausted than you once did. So taking frequent breaks is essential. This will give your ears, and, maybe more significantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.

Consider getting hearing aids

How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear by now, in a lot of ways!

Every interaction with your family through the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And no more asking people what they said.

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

It could take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like no one can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all by yourself. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically 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.