The holidays are coming up and even with the Covid out there some of us are looking forward to going to parties or getting together with our extended family in both November and December. Many of us don’t mind that they have already started playing Christmas music, shopping for gifts, cooking and maybe traveling. For some others of us, the holiday season brings a sense of isolation and loneliness. Those with hearing loss are at a greater risk for the “holiday blues.”
For many hearing-impaired Americans, especially those with untreated hearing loss, the holidays may not be a happy time at all.
Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to loneliness, depression and stress, feeling which may intensify during the holiday season. If you have a hearing loss, you may find holiday gatherings difficult due to the frustration of trying to participate in conversations with family and friends. Some of us may even avoid parties and get-togethers. Unfortunately, avoiding gatherings altogether just leads to further loneliness, depression and isolation.
When surrounded by loved ones, a family member’s impaired ability to hear and actively participate in conversation cuts them off. This is especially true when the hearing loss is either unrecognized or is being “hidden” by the family member with hearing loss.
There are steps you can take to have a joyful and wonderful season and be able to participate in the festivities.
- Don’t let another year of struggling to hear go by. See a hearing care professional to get a hearing screening and treatment. It is not too late if you act soon. You will probably be able to get a screening and hearing aids if necessary prior to the holidays.
- Connect. Loneliness and isolation are associated with depression, as is hearing loss. Make plans to attend small gatherings, don’t avoid all parties and gatherings.
- Speak up. Let family and friends know you have hearing loss so they can accommodate your hearing needs. Most people will help and are quite happy to face you when speaking, speak clearly and distinctly and repeating things if necessary.
- Embrace past traditions. What did you love to do? Take a walk in the crisp winter air, baking cookies, making tree ornaments, singing favorite carols, any of these can help connect you to past experiences and bring back joy of the season.
- Recharge. Even with hearing aids, your hearing still may not be 100%. Trying to listen to conversations in background noise of holiday parties can be tiring, so be sure to get plenty of rest.
- Talk about it. Give family and friends the opportunity to support you by letting them know what you are going through.
Don’t let the holiday blues get you down. If you or a loved one has hearing loss, make this the time to reconnect and bring back the joy of the season once again.
Please remember due to Covid it is suggested gatherings be no more than 10 people. When you arrive do an elbow bump or wave and verbally greet them rather than shake hands. In public wear your mask or face shield, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.
We will get through this!