Woman with hearing loss feeling isolated during holidays.

Other than turkey, what do you think about when someone mentions Thanksgiving? Does the cooking and preparing with your family start days before? Will you catch up with each other as you follow grandma’s classic homemade pecan pie recipe? It’s warm and comfy because you are together, and a yummy aroma is wafting from the oven. While the family laughs about your son’s latest dating adventure or watch the grandkids laugh and sing holiday songs will you be laughing with them? Or are you having a difficult time catching the punchline of every joke?

The holiday doesn’t have to be defined for you by loss of hearing. You can take control of your holiday experience, from hearing a salesperson at a noisy store to talking over drinks at the company get together. You don’t need to be held hostage by loss of hearing. Consider some tricks that will allow you to get the most out of the holidays in spite of your hearing loss.

At Holiday Parties

For anyone who has loss of hearing, parties could be the most difficult challenge. To make the experience less stressful, here are some tips:

  • Ask for a seat at the center of the table so you don’t feel as isolated.
  • Perhaps try going out of the room, even if just for a while. It will give your brain a chance to a rest.
  • Manage Your Expectations. It’s an unrealistic expectation to imagine that you will stroll into a party and find everything to be ideal. Things will be more difficult due to your loss of hearing. Don’t allow the challenges to stress you out, just use a sense of humor about it.
  • In order to get things you may have missed, enlist a hearing buddy to sit with you.
  • Look for places in the room that have better acoustics–maybe a quiet corner.
  • Move away from any speakers that may interfere with your hearing aids. Don’t be shy about asking the host to turn down the music so you can hear better.
  • Use visual hints to let others know what is happening. Something as simple as cupping your hand behind your ear can let someone know you’re having difficulty hearing without you having to point it out.
  • Stand with your back to the wall. It can help block some of the background noise.
  • Be aware of the visual clues. When someone is looking at you, they are most likely speaking to you. If you didn’t hear what they said let them know.
  • If you are listening to a speech, ask friends to pass you notes rather than attempting to whisper in your ear.

Travel Tips

Don’t permit the challenges of hearing loss to stop you from traveling. Here are a few suggestions to help make your holiday travels go smoothly.

Taking The Train or Flying

If you prefer to fly or ride the rails, it can be difficult to hear announcements over the intercom. There are a few things you can do to make the trip smoother. Finding out if the airport or train station offers any special services for the hearing impaired is step one. They may have special signs that visually show oral announcements or apps you can download on your phone to see track changes or other vital information. They may also offer priority boarding, for example, or a sign language interpreter if you need one. If being close enough to lip read or ask questions is important, you can request priority seating. They might also offer to take you through a select line in security, too. Be sure to ask a few weeks before you go if you want to find out what is possible.

Be sure the attendants are aware that you have hearing loss when you get on board. That way if you don’t answer when they ask if you want a drink, they will know to tap you on the shoulder to be sure.

Lodging Tips

When you reserve your hotel room, let them know you are hearing impaired. Many resorts have rooms or devices available for those with hearing loss including vibrating alarm clocks and phones which flash lights instead of ringing. So they can improve your safety, some spots are also set up with alarms that flash lights.

What Hearing Aid Essentials to Bring

You might not be certain what to bring with you if this is your first time traveling with your hearing aids. Some fundamentals to pack include:

  • Additional accessories
  • A cleaning kit
  • Extra batteries or a second charger

As you pass security keep your hearing aids in. Removing them is not required. Also, during a flight, you can keep them in.

Lastly, if you don’t have hearing aids, perhaps it’s time. In the newer hearing aids, there are features that will eliminate background noise, enhance conversation while amplifying sound. The holidays only come once a year. There is no reason the holidays can’t be everything you remember whether you’ve had hearing loss your whole life or if you are new to it. To help you understand what your hearing options are, make an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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