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

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

It likely feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. That’s the appeal (and, some might say, the curse) of the holiday season. Normally, this sort of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to find out what everybody’s been doing all year.

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

Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be particularly discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and enjoyable by using a few go-to tips developed 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 Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

These tips are meant to help make sure you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

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 during the holidays.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones represent a particular obstacle. It can be very hard to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call vexing indeed. You won’t get clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help determine what’s being said. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:

  • Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
  • People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase also.
  • People to slow down a little when talking with you.

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

Find some quiet spaces for conversing

You will always want to avoid certain subjects of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to bring it up. When you have hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • You’re looking for spaces with less commotion. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
  • 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 contextual clues or read lips.
  • When you find a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That could mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? In situations like this, there are a few things you can do:

  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less going on. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.

Speak to the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings 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. It’s important that you can understand all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be certain to tell them about your hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual guidelines. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself exhausted more often than before. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.

Get some hearing aids

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

One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family over the holidays easier and more rewarding. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.

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

It may take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everyone’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t have to get through the holidays alone

When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if nobody understands what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all by yourself. It’s like hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But you aren’t alone. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.

Holidays can be difficult enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even harder. With the right 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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