The holidays tend to be more problematic for people with hearing loss, whether you’re shopping, traveling or attending a party; situations are more likely to be noisy. For people with untreated hearing loss, the more noise the harder it is to follow a conversation. Large group gatherings, bustling shopping centers and loud celebrations go hand in hand with the season; they are also some of the toughest situations for people with hearing loss.
Don’t let you hearing loss ruin your holiday plans.
We’ve put together six tips for surviving family gatherings with hearing loss.
- Get a Tune up! Make an appointment for a cleaning with you hearing specialist to make sure your device is in good working order. A broken hearing aid at a holiday party will only make the situation more difficult. While you’re at the office you can also stock up on extra tubes, filters and batteries just to be safe.
- Distance yourself from the noise. Avoid the areas of the party where that background noise is loudest like near the stereo, television or kitchen. Try to sit or stand with your back to a wall to cut down on background noise. Try to have one-on-one conversations. If that is not possible try to speak only with the people nearest you. If you have to ask them to repeat try to be specific about the part you missed instead of just saying ‘what’?
- Manage Expectations. Don’t be afraid to tell people you have hearing loss and explain that these noisy situations can be difficult for you. If you are upfront about your troubles there is a good chance your host will try to be more accommodating. Also, if you grow tired or stressed (all that hearing can be a lot of work) and decide to leave early they will know you’re not trying to be rude.
- Be strategic on seating. At the dinner table choose a seat that allows you to see as many faces as possible if you read lips or if you have a ‘good ear’ seat yourself so most people are on that side. If possible, try to choose a seat next to someone who usually has the patience to fill you in if you miss the punch line. If you are out at a restaurant choose the seat with your back against the wall.
- Be prepared. If you are traveling for the festivities pack plenty of extra batteries, filters and tubing. Have any important documents printed out incase you have trouble communicating with airport/hotel etc. staff. Remember, you don’t need to take out your hearing aids for airport security.
- Take a break! All that listening can be hard work. Give yourself a 5-minute break every now and then. It will help. The holidays can be a busy time, but you won’t enjoy yourself if you try to do too much.
There is a lot to be heard at the Thanksgiving dinner table and you don’t have to miss out on any of the memories. The key to surviving family gatherings with hearing loss is thinking ahead and knowing when to take time for yourself.