The holidays are festive time where friends and family gather together to celebrate! These get-togethers can be highlights of the season – but fill the room up with aunts, uncles, and long-lost cousins, and things are bound to get loud. From epic festive feasts around the dinner table to gathering around the living room exchange gifts, these become some our most cherished moments that lift us up during the shortest days of the year! However, if you are one of the many Americans who suffer from hearing loss this time can be overwhelming. Through all this holiday bustle, attending gatherings and preparing for them, we must remember to include our loved ones with hearing loss.
Understanding Hearing Loss
For people who suffer from hearing loss, it can cause frustration, confusion and even isolation. Living with hearing loss must be taken seriously. While it is quite common – 20 percent of the U.S. population, or 48 million people are affected by hearing loss – for an individual, developing or living with the condition can present a set of new challenges involving a range of emotions. Understanding that a family member or loved one suffers from hearing loss just might be the first step to enjoying family get-togethers again. If you notice that an aging family member has become less interested in doing the things they love and isolate themselves from certain gatherings, you may want to encourage them evaluated for hearing loss.
There are different types of hearing loss, but as we age the primary thing that is affected is the ability to hear soft sounds and the ability to understand speech, especially in a room with a lot of background noise. During holiday gatherings, loud noise and group conversations can fill the background of any room, which creates a difficult environment for some to be able to hear and understand. In a loud environment, those with hearing loss may withdraw from conversations due to their inability to keep up. The experience can cause people who suffer from hearing loss to feel isolated, confused and withdrawn.
Tips for Accommodating Loved Ones with Hearing Loss
A few simple tips can help us incorporate these family members into everything we do without overwhelming or stressing them out.
You may know by now that when speaking to someone with hearing loss, it takes much more effort. No longer can you have a conversation from another room or speak casually amongst all the holiday commotion. However, the pros of conversing with someone with hearing loss, for both of you, is that you’re really focused on what you’re saying to that other person. You can’t multi-task because you need to face each other so the person with hearing loss can lip-read if necessary. This creates and intentionality that can make your loved ones suffering from hearing loss to feel valued, included and loved.
If you find your loved one in an awkward placement at a table or other arrangement, take the initiative to help them move to the middle of the group. Some subtle acts of translation can be helpful, as well. If you know that a person is speaking too quietly or is to far away to be understood.
Here are some tips to show the person in your life with hearing loss that you value conversing with him or her:
- Reduce background noise as much as possible. This could mean turning down the volume on the TV or turning it off altogether.
- Maintain eye contact. This ensures that you are facing the person and he or she can use lip reading and expression to understand the entire meaning of your words.
- Do not exaggerate your voice or lip movements. This can distort the message; it’s better to speak clearly and at a normal rate.
- Use the person’s name to get his or her attention before you speak.
- Rephrase what you have said, rather than repeating, if the person did not understand. Rather than using complex sentences, use more simple ones.
- If you’re changing the topic, let the person know beforehand so he or she can adjust. Context helps a lot!
- Stay positive and keep a sense of humor!
Making the extra effort to include your loved ones with hearing loss in group situations could become part of the holiday experience that makes these festive times warmer and more meaningful than ever!
Visit Us at Active Hearing and Audiology
Catching up with loved ones during the holidays is much easier with improved hearing. If you’ve been struggling with hearing loss, contact us at Active Hearing and Audiology today for a comprehensive hearing test.