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

So, so many family celebrations.

During the holiday seasons, it most likely seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative every other weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) for this reason. Usually, this type of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.

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

Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially disturbing feeling when it occurs during the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

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

During holiday get-togethers, use these tips to get through and make more unforgettable memories.

Avoid phone calls – use video instead

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. If you have 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 challenge. It can be really hard to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call vexing indeed. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Tell people the truth

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

  • People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
  • People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase also.
  • A quieter place to talk.

People won’t be as likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication tends to flow a bit easier.

Find some quiet spaces for talking

During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to bring it up. When you have hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully steer clear of specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.

Handle it like this:

  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That might mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that loud sporting event on the TV.
  • Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
  • By the same token, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • Attempt to find areas that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).

So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece begins talking to you? There are a few things you can do in cases like these:

  • 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.
  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
  • Politely start walking to a spot where you can hear and focus better. 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 are less obvious? Like the ones that sneak up on you.

Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly significant for families that are pretty spread out. It’s important that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really important to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or have hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual guidelines. When you’re flying, it’s essential that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of work. You may find yourself getting more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Consider getting hearing aids

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

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

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

It may take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to get them. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help navigating the holidays

It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. It’s like hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But there’s help. You can navigate many of the difficulties with our help.

The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they typically are). With the correct approach, 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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