Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

Gatherings. So many family gatherings.

During the holiday seasons, it probably seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. That’s the charm (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Usually, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.

But when you have hearing loss, those family gatherings might feel a little less inviting. What’s the reason for this? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?

Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The result can be a disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly disturbing feeling when it occurs during the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.

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 Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.

These tips are developed to help be certain that you keep having all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to stay in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones throughout the holidays.

Phones present an interesting dilemma with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be very hard to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that can definitely be aggravating. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help determine what’s being said. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

Hearing loss is very common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • Your friends and family to talk a bit slower.
  • A quieter place to talk.
  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.

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 bit smoother.

Find some quiet spaces for conversing

You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to mention it. In a similar way, you should try to cautiously pick spaces that are quieter for talking.

Handle it like this:

  • When you choose a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
  • You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you lip read as a result).
  • By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
  • There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.

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 couple of 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.
  • Politely begin walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and concentrate better. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.

Speak to the flight crew

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

When families are spread out, lots of people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s crucial to comprehend all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s essential not to miss anything!

Take breaks

When you are dealing with hearing loss, communication can be a lot of effort. You will often find yourself fatigued more often than before. So taking regular breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Consider getting hearing aids

How does hearing loss affect relationships? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!

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

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

It could take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until right before the holidays to get them. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t need to navigate the holidays alone

It can feel like you’re by yourself sometimes, and that nobody understands what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss affects your personality. But you aren’t alone. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they normally are). With the right strategy, 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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