If you are hard of hearing or have any degree of hearing loss, the holidays can be a frustrating and challenging time. However, no one should ever hermit themselves away during the holiday season. Unfortunately having any degree of hearing loss can make it difficult to follow and stay involved in conversations and can quickly leave a person feeling overwhelmed and disconnected. Knowing that it’s a struggle to remain engaged in a conversation can make someone feel like they can’t stay long, or feel like they shouldn’t leave the house in the first place.
During the holidays, nobody should ever feel left out. To help you enjoy this holiday season, check out these helpful tips and strategies that you can implement to make the holidays more hearing friendly.
Wear Your Hearing Aids
If you have them, use them. Many people often feel ashamed when wearing hearing aids, so they don’t use them. However, there is nothing to be ashamed of, many people in the United States need hearing assistance, so you are not alone. Wearing your hearing aids will make it much easier to hear and decipher what others are saying. Best part, you have control over the volume, so you may be able to use this feature to your advantage (hint, hint). Can your hearing-able friends and family do the same?
If you wear hearing aids, make sure you bring them and any additional batteries you may have. Otherwise, bringing along a simple notebook and pen can help you stay afloat in conversation, so don’t leave home without it. You can use these tools to your advantage if you become lost during the conversation and the best part? You can keep this low-key if you choose, so others won’t know what you are doing. Also, if you have any kind of assistive listening devices bring them and use them.
When you get to the gathering, scan the room first for potential areas to sit. You will want to sit yourself strategically so you can limit the number of sounds and clatter surrounding you. While the holidays are never a quiet time, there are certain locations that are louder than others. For example, make sure you place yourself far away from the kitchen and kids table, as much as you can. Neither location will be quiet or free from excess chatter. Also, if you can sit with your back to the wall, this way the sounds can bounce off the wall behind you.
Stay Focused and Speak Up
If you are at a small gathering, ask if everyone could speak one at a time and don’t be afraid to remind them if they forget! Otherwise, if you find yourself in a large group, try to focus your conversation with only one person at a time. Following one person is much easier than trying to follow two or three. However, this is not always possible, so if you are engaged in a conversation that has a lot going on, don’t be afraid to speak up if you get lost or confused and make sure you are practicing mindful listening. However, make sure you are specific about what you missed, so the speaker isn’t left wondering which part of their conversation they need to repeat.