Looking forward to the holiday season, we anticipate big gatherings, much to catch up with in lively conversations, and celebratory music. For your family members who experience hearing loss, the holidays prove to be a challenging hearing environment with all the sounds of festivities. There are ways you can support your family members during this time, to make sure that they feel connected and included. If you experience hearing loss yourself, there are also a few things you can do to make your holiday experience more enjoyable.
Understanding the Basics of Hearing Loss
For those of us who do not experience hearing loss, it’s important to understand a few things about the condition. With hearing loss, certain frequencies and sounds are difficult to understand, such as the voices of women and children. With hearing loss, speech recognition becomes difficult, especially in cross conversation against a lot of background noise. Another difficulty with hearing loss is competing noise. Hearing loss makes it difficult for people to discern and focus on specific sounds in challenging noise situations.
Good communication is key among family members during the holidays. Feel free to ask your family members who experience hearing loss how you can make their holiday seasons joyous and relaxing. If you experience a hearing loss, communicate your accommodation needs to your loved ones in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
Catching Up: Conversations & Speech Recognition
Holidays are a great time to catch up with our loved ones. When speaking to your loved one, make sure it is face-to-face and try to speak one person at a time – even though it might be difficult because everyone is excited to see one another! Speak at a pace that is even and normal – not unnaturally slow, of course – and speak clearly at a good volume, without running words together. People with hearing loss may hear muddled speech, so the clearer your diction, the better.
If you experience a hearing loss, position yourself in a way that makes it easier to have a conversation. Try to have a conversation off to the side in a small group – this is easier than being in big conversation. When seated at the dining table, try to get a seat with your back to a wall. If you sit at one of the ends, it may be easier to see everyone’s face, allowing you to read nonverbal cues.
Turn Down the Music
Who doesn’t love holiday music? Often times, we want music on to create a festive ambiance. Keep in mind that music blaring from speakers may hinder conversations your loved ones may have, and dial the volume down to a reasonable level. If the space is noisy, make sure you’ve got your family member’s attention before you speak; it could be as simple as a touch on the shoulder or elbow. With a lot of background noise, people who experience hearing loss may not be able to focus on all of the sounds in their environment, and may not hear you if you are behind them or off to the side.
If you experience hearing loss, ask your host to keep the volume down on the music. You could also suggest that they turn the speakers away from the guests, which still allows for those festive tunes but in a less direct and obtrusive way!
Streamlining Travel Plans
If your family member is hard of hearing and is planning to travel to see you, be prepared in advance and know their plans. Public transportation hubs and airports are particularly challenging noise environments for people who experience hearing loss, due to the large cavernous structures of transportation hubs as well as constant noise from vehicles, other travelers, and announcements on PA systems. Make sure you are in touch via text message, or that you have a clear plan for picking them up as they arrive, in case they cannot hear you on the phone.
If you experience a hearing loss, simple steps in preparation could make your travel plans so much easier. Make sure you have all of the supplies you need for your hearing devices, set your flight plans to text alert (just in case you cannot hear the schedule changes over the PA), and have everything printed up in hard copy.
Accommodating Family Activities
What’s better than gathering after a big dinner to play games, listen to music, or watch a movie as a family? If your family member treats their hearing loss with a hearing aid, ask them about the wireless connectivity capabilities of their devices. There are options for assistive listening devices (ALD) to amplify sound; if your family members are hard of hearing and visit you often, consider an ALD for the family room to assist with their listening experience.
If you have a hearing loss, your hearing aids may offer wireless connectivity options. Most hearing aids can be connected to home entertainment systems and electronic devices via Bluetooth, which delivers clear sound of media to the ears. If you are unsure, ask your hearing specialist at Hearing Consultants.
Visit Us at Hearing Consultants
In anticipation of the busy holiday season, schedule an appointment with us at Hearing Consultants. If you experience a hearing loss and use hearing aids, we’ll give your hearing aids a tune-up so you’re ready for the upcoming festivities. If you have been experiencing changes in your hearing, we’ll work with you to find a solution.