Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

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

So, so many family get-togethers.

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 might 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 welcoming when you’re dealing with 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 other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling 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 lights, 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.

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

Use video chat instead of phone calls

Zoom calls can be an excellent way to keep in touch with friends and family. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is especially true. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. It can be really difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be aggravating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

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

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

When people know that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will have a better flow as a result.

Find some quiet spaces for conversing

During the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any sensitive subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, 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.

deal with it like this:

  • When you choose a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
  • You’re looking for areas with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy television or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
  • By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece starts talking to you? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to talk.
  • 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.
  • Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less going on. And remember to let her know this is what you’re doing.

Speak to the flight crew

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

Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially significant for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s extra essential to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or have hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if necessary. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. As a result, it’s important to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Consider investing in hearing aids

How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in a lot of ways!

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

Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.

Keep in mind that it may take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until just before the holidays to pick them up. Everybody will have a different experience. So speak with us about the timing.

You don’t need to get through the holidays alone

It can feel as if you’re by yourself sometimes, and that no one understands what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss affects your personality. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.

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