Enjoying Holidays with Hearing Loss
Warm fires. Changing leaves. Winter breeze. Dinner feasts. It’s that time of year again — yes, the holidays! But while many people associate this time with an elevated sense of togetherness and belonging, for those with hearing loss, this time can be marked by feelings of desolation and distress. According to a recent study by Healthy Hearing, half of family gatherings this holiday season will include someone with hearing loss, while only 30% will have some using hearing aids. And of the 27 million people living with hearing loss in America, feelings of loneliness, stress and depression can be intensified during the holiday season. Even though it’s normal to experience these feelings, there are several ways you can alleviate them this year. Here’s how to make the most of your holiday celebrations with hearing loss:
- Remind your friends and family about your hearing loss, so they can properly accommodate your needs. Don’t be shy about voicing the things you need to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones — they’ll want you to feel welcomed and comfortable! It’s okay to request a spot at the table that’s farthest away from the commotion that could occur in the kitchen or living room. And if the noise becomes distracting, be sure to let someone know you’re having trouble hearing. It may even be helpful to grab a listening partner — someone who can help you catch any bits of conversation you may miss.
- Keep the volume down, if possible. Football games, music, playful children — holiday gatherings can be an especially noisy time! While you or your host may enjoy listening to the background noise of holiday gatherings, ask to turn down the noise when it’s dinner time. Turning music or televisions down or off completely while enjoying a meal tends to encourage people to speak louder around the table. That means you’ll be able to hear and focus on those special one-on-one conversations. You deserve to embrace each conversation with your loved ones, and there’s always time to sing, dance and play after dinner!
- Clear your view! Table centerpieces, candles and dimmed lighting are go-to ingredients for creating the traditional holiday ambiance. Yes, these are nice stage-setters, but they can sometimes pose obstacles if you have hearing loss. Dimmed lighting and table centerpieces can make it more difficult to see faces, read lips or pick up on other visual cues you may use to follow conversations. If possible, make sure the dining room is well-lit and keep the table clear. Not only will this make it easier to see your scrumptious dinner plate, but it will also make it easier to see as many faces as possible, and to use any additional listening techniques you may have adopted.
- Don’t avoid parties, embrace the season with friends and family. Group settings, especially during the holiday season, can be intimidating when you have hearing loss. But avoiding them can make everything much more difficult. Isolation and loneliness are associated with depression — as is hearing loss. So, make plans for the holidays! Get together with friends and surround yourself with those you care about. Embrace the holiday season by bringing back joyful memories from the past. Singing songs, making jokes and playing games can help you connect with your loved ones and bring back that contagious cheer of the holiday season.
- Go easy on yourself. And don’t forget to bring your sense of humor! Situations with many people conversing at once can be challenging for anyone, even those without hearing loss. As the hearing health advocate Shari Eberts says on her blog, “It can be hard to keep things in perspective during the holidays when you feel like you are missing out on the fun, but try to laugh a little and be grateful for the wonderful friends and family around you. You may not hear every word they say, but you can partake in all of the good feelings around the table. Be sure to enjoy the moment.” So, enjoy your celebrations and remember you are loved!
Being around those you love while indulging in great food and laughter are some of the most meaningful parts of the holiday season. Don’t let another year of stress and struggling through the holidays go by. Before heading out for your celebrations, visit your Hearing Care Professional to ensure your hearing instruments are ready to go. There are many ways you can make Everyday Sounds Better before, during and after the holidays — so talk to your Hearing Care Professional to see how Sonic can help!