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 probably seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. The holiday season can be fun (and also challenging) because of this. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to find out what everybody’s been up to all year.

But those family gatherings might 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 get-togethers?

Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be particularly disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant by using a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like decorations, 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, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to stay in touch. If you have hearing loss, this is particularly true. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones represent a particular challenge. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Tell people the truth

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

  • Your friends and family to speak a little slower.
  • People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase also.
  • Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).

When people recognize that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little easier.

Select your locations of conversation wisely

Throughout the holidays, there are always topics 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 delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • Attempt to find places that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • By the same token, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
  • Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. That could mean moving away 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, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to deal with.

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

  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
  • 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.
  • Politely start walking to a spot where you can hear and concentrate 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 effects of hearing loss at family gatherings that are less apparent? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.

When families are spread out, many people need to fly somewhere. It’s essential that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra important to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with extra visual guidelines. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more frequently than before. So taking frequent breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.

Consider investing in hearing aids

How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.

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, the greatest part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat themselves.

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

Bear in mind that it might take you some time to get used to your hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You can get help navigating the holidays

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if no one understands what you’re dealing with, and that you have to get through it all alone. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But you aren’t alone. You can navigate many of the challenges with our help.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they normally are). At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the correct approach.

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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.