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December is a time to visit with family and loved ones, but the busy-ness and volume of our gatherings, festivities, and celebrations could cause some worry for those who have hearing loss.
Here is some advice on how to enjoy the holidays with hearing loss: both for those who have hearing loss and those who are entertaining loved ones who have hearing loss.
Understanding the Experience of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a prevalent condition affecting millions of Americans of all ages. People with hearing loss may have difficulty understanding spoken words, particularly in noisy environments. These symptoms often lead people to engage in the following impractical techniques when communicating:
- Constantly requesting the speaker to either reiterate themselves or to talk louder and slower
- Trying to figure out words they have misheard by attempting to read lips
- Acting like they have no issue hearing and pretending they fully comprehend the dialogue
When people experience symptoms like these, it can be very distracting and impedes successful communication. As a result, they may find that they are always overexerting themselves when trying to engage in conversation.
This can often lead to miscommunication or partial comprehension of the dialogue, which prevents people from being fully committed to the discussion. In turn, this strained communication can impact relationships in several ways:
- The quality and duration of conversations are significantly decreased
- Tension arises as people assume they are being ignored or unheard
- Enjoyment from favorite activities becomes minimized
- Barriers in communication inhibit nuances such as inside jokes, intimacy, and casual small talk
For the holidays, when we are bringing everyone together, we offer a few tips to make sure everyone feels included and accommodated during the festivities!
Should you be hosting a holiday dinner for hard-of-hearing guests…
Hosting is a difficult job. The more people there are, the more work it takes to ensure everyone is cared for and having a good time. If you have people with hearing loss coming over:
Inquire about needed accommodations. Inquiring about conveniences that simplify your guests’ lives during a dinner party never hurts.
Lower the volume. Loud music during meals and conversations may seriously impair speech recognition for those with hearing loss. Make an effort to keep the noise level down. To prevent the music from blaring straight into areas where your guests are mingling, another piece of advice is to turn the speakers away from the room.
Create more intimate areas for conversation. Instead of having everyone sit in a large circle if you’re entertaining a large group, arrange your house such that quieter conversations may occur. People with hearing loss may handle small-group interactions better if held in a quieter area.
Help during dinner. Ask your hard-of-hearing visitors if any modifications might make their time at the dinner table more enjoyable. A few smaller circular tables could be used to break up the dining space.
If you are going to a holiday dinner yourself…
You already know what to do to hear well, such as using hearing aids and moving about a room to find the optimum conversational positions. Here are some things you may do before you go to the subsequent holiday gatherings.
Communicate your needs. When it comes to your friends and loved ones, remember that they want to make sure you are comfortable, even if we know that it may be challenging to call attention to our needs occasionally. Healthy relationships depend on open communication.
Ask to be placed at the head of the table if it is rectangular. From this position, you can see everyone’s faces better and hear the many discussions around the table.
Focus on more intimate, one-on-one exchanges. You know how difficult it may be to distinguish between different speakers in large groups. Your ability to follow a discussion with numerous speakers may be hampered by noise, even with hearing aids. Instead, move to a quieter area for one-on-one convos. Find a spot in the home where you can sit facing the wall to block out background noise, enhancing the quality of your chats.
Check in with us to see whether your hearing aids are current. Visit us to get your hearing aid serviced or repaired before the hectic holiday season.
Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss!
If you’re living with untreated hearing loss, you may not realize how much it’s affecting your relationships. Whether it’s with your spouse, your kids, or your friends, hearing loss can make communication difficult! If you’re struggling to connect with the people you care about, treatment for hearing loss can help.
It all starts with a simple hearing test. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!