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

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the appeal (and, some might say, the bane) of the holiday season. Normally, this kind of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to learn what everyone’s been doing all year.

But those family gatherings might feel less welcoming when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant by using a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

There’s a lot to see during the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also so much to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.

During holiday gatherings, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.

Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.

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

Phones present an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be very hard to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.

Be honest with people

It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to slow down a little when speaking with you.
  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
  • Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).

When people recognize that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re less likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a bit smoother.

Find some quiet areas for conversing

You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. 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.

Handle it like this:

  • When you choose a place to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
  • By the same token, keep your discussions in places that are well-lit. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be capable of picking up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • Attempt to find places that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
  • Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.

Alright, alright, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with holiday cocoa? There are a few things you can do in cases like these:

  • Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to talk.
  • You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
  • Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less happening. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.

Communicate with the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers that aren’t as apparent? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?

Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s particularly essential for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s important to comprehend all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain to tell them about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can offer you visual instructions if necessary. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can be a lot of effort. You might find yourself growing more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. So taking regular breaks is essential. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.

Consider getting hearing aids

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

Every interaction with your family during the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.

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

Remember that it may take you some time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everybody’s experience will differ. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help getting through the holidays

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. It’s as if hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.

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

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