Hearing Loss Tips to Help You Enjoy the Holidays
The holiday season is the perfect time of year to get together with friends and family. Whether you are sharing a delicious meal or attending a concert, it gives you an opportunity to dress up, make memories, and feel the joy of the season.
But, if you are living with hearing loss, then the holiday season can feel frustrating and isolating. It’s difficult to participate in your favorite holiday festivities when you can’t hear the conversations that are happening around you. As a result, you might see the activities that are going on, but feel disconnected because you can’t participate in the way that you desire.
People with hearing loss often share that they feel left out during the holiday festivities. Just because you are present in person, doesn’t mean that you are engaging with your loved ones. If you are experiencing hearing loss, or you have a loved one with hearing loss, then here are a few tips to improve the holiday season:
Video Chat Instead of Phone Calls
Phone calls can be challenging for someone with hearing loss. You want to connect with children, grandchildren, siblings, and other relatives who live far away. But a quick phone call isn’t a good fit when you can’t hear what the other person is saying.
Luckily, there are many technology solutions to use as an alternative. For example, video chat allows you to see each other’s faces, which is beneficial for the person with hearing loss. A lot of communication happens through facial expressions and lip reading, making it easier to talk from a distance.
Free video chat options are available through Facetime, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, and Amazon Echo.
Consider Your Environment
Environmental noise can make it more challenging to hear the voices of people around you. When the noise levels are high, it’s difficult to distinguish different noises.
When you are hosting or attending a holiday party, these are a few ways that you can manage the environmental noise:
- Position yourself on the opposite side of the room from the speaker or music. The distance from the main source of noise will help you talk to people easier.
- Choose a chair so that you have a full view of the person who is speaking. You need to be able to see their face and lip read.
- Brighten the lighting so you can see people’s faces while they are talking.
- If you are at a house with multiple rooms, choose the quietest and brightest location and invite a friend to join you for a conversation.
- When sitting at the dinner table, make sure you are sitting across the table or next to the people you would like to talk to.
- If you can’t hear someone talking, ask them if they can continue the conversation later when you can hear them better.
- Sit with your back against a wall to minimize background noise behind you.
- Ask the party host to turn down the music if things are too loud.
If you are hosting a party, consider the small details that will make it more comfortable for someone with hearing loss. For example, minimize visual distractions (such as oversized centerpieces) that might make it hard for people to see each other. Also, reduce background noise by lowering the music volume (or turning it off completely), and having a separate area for the children to play.
Get Plenty of Rest
It can cause stress and anxiety to be spending time in an environment where you can’t hear the conversations. Pay attention to how you are feeling so you can take breaks when needed. Your mind and ears will need time to rest, especially after a lot of conversation. Head to a bedroom or a bathroom to give yourself a few minutes to take a break and recharge before stepping back into the party again.
Also, make sure you are prioritizing good sleep each night. Focusing on self-care increases the energy you have to offer to other people during the holiday celebrations.
Speak Up About Your Experience
If you can’t hear the conversation, then it might be tempting to smile and nod – pretending like you can hear the conversation around you. There are many contextual cues you can pick up on, such as laughing with others (even if you didn’t hear the joke).
Not only is this practice isolating, but it can be confusing if one of the other people in the conversation addresses you directly. When someone asks you a question, it can cause an awkward moment because you can’t understand them.
Instead of pretending to participate, be honest with your friends and family about your experience. Tell them that you are having a hard time hearing the conversation. This moment of courage helps you connect with loved ones more effectively. If needed, share suggestions so you can hear the conversation. For example, you might be able to sit closer to the person who is speaking. Or, cup your hand over your ear if you need them to talk a little louder.
Schedule an Appointment for Your Hearing Aids
If you wear hearing aids, consider scheduling an appointment for fine-tuning and cleaning to ensure your devices are working optimally. Additionally, the audiologist can check your ears to see if there is any impacted wax that might be affecting your hearing.
This appointment is a great time to have a conversation about any problems you might be noticing with your hearing aids. Remember that hearing aid technology is quite complex, and there are many adjustments and settings that can be used to dial in the perfect solution for your unique needs.
Also, make sure you are always wearing your hearing aids, especially in social settings. Most people need to wear their hearing aids during waking hours. The more you are using these devices in everyday settings, the better prepared you are for more difficult hearing environments. Make sure your hearing aid batteries are charged so you can make it through the event with the clearest hearing possible.
You deserve to enjoy holiday celebrations and every-day interactions with the people that you love. If you are struggling to connect with friends and family because of hearing loss, then it’s time to talk to a hearing specialist for assistance. Contact us at Fairfax Hearing Center to book a hearing test and learn more about hearing aids and other solutions to overcome hearing loss.