We cannot believe that it is already mid-November and almost time for the holiday season. You’re already thinking about all the festivities, family dinners, mistletoe, and holiday cookies. But, have you stopped to consider the holidays and hearing loss? Whether you have a hearing loss or someone you love does, it is important to take hearing loss into consideration to ensure that you and your entire family enjoy the season.
Take Location into Consideration
When attending holiday parties, it’s important to take location into consideration. For example, you may want to opt for a spot on the couch rather than hang out in the kitchen. The hard surfaces in the kitchen will amplify background noises and cause everyone to begin speaking louder. When sitting on the couch, you will be below the noise of those standing, and the soft surface will buffer some of the racket.
During a sit-down dinner, ask to be seated near the middle of the table (so you can see everyone) and next to someone you can count on to help fill in any gaps you may have missed during the conversation.
Talk to the Host Ahead of Time
Most people (especially our close friends and family) are more than willing to make accommodations so that we can be comfortable and enjoy the festivities with hearing loss. The biggest problem, however, is that most people don’t know what we need. Take the time to help the host understand what will help you. For example, you may ask her to keep the background music at a lower volume or ensure there are some quieter nooks and crannies for easier conversation.
Ditch the Fine China
One of the most difficult background noises to converse over is the clinking and clanging of silverware on glass plates and bowls. This noise is significantly reduced when disposable cutlery is used. Many stores such as Costco and Target now offer high-quality plastic silverware that looks deceivingly like the real thing. Best part is that you also get to ditch the dishes.
Don’t Fake It
This is a big one. It’s so easy to nod and laugh along with a conversation, even if you didn’t hear enough of it to understand. While it’s convenient, doing this is not good for anyone. It can leave you feeling alone and isolated, and can cause some embarrassing miscommunications. Instead of nodding along, ask others to repeat themselves. Rather than saying “what” or “huh”, rephrase the parts of the conversation you did hear. For example, when talking to your son-in-law about his new job, instead of interrupting with “huh”, you can instead say something like, “I heard you say you got a new job in accounting, but I didn’t catch when your first day starts”. This helps people understand that you really are listening and interested, you were simply unable to hear some of what they said.
Use Visual Cues
Rephrasing and asking for repetition do not always work - especially in group conversations. In these instances, it may be smart to use a universal cue such as cupping your hand behind your ear to identify to the speaker that they need to speak up.
Use Your Hearing Aids and Other Technology
If you have hearing aids - wear them! Make sure your hearing aids are fit and finely tuned to meet your needs before the holiday parties begin. You can also get a boost from additional technology like assisted listening devices. There are sound amplification devices you can buy from many retailers, and even apps you can download on your phone that will work just like mini amplification systems.
Get Your Hearing Checked
Even if you follow all of these tips, you may still face challenges as you approach the holidays with untreated hearing loss. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids have been proven to improve social relationships - especially those with your spouse and close family. Getting your hearing checked may be the very best gift you give yourself (and your loved ones) this holiday season! Contact us at Hart Hearing & Balance to schedule a consultation and hearing test today.