Holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year! For those people dealing with hearing loss however, it can bring on a multitude of issues such as increased blood pressure, depression, trouble concentrating, anxiety and social withdrawal. If you are a person living with hearing loss, there are some ways to help make the holidays easier for yourself and others.

Tips for Handling Hearing Loss Over the Holidays!

  • Choose an advantageous position at the meal table. If one ear hears better than the other, it is important to keep that ear directed toward most of the conversation.
  • Don’t face a window, especially during the day. The glare can make it more difficult to read visual clues from others. Also be sure the room is well lit.
  • Try to stay away from the kitchen when conversing. The noise from dishes and water can increase the difficulty of hearing and understanding others.
  • Ask a close family member or friend to sit next to you and help guide you through the parts of the conversation you might miss.
  • If you need something repeated or rephrased do not hesitate to ask.
  • Many times, family members may not realize hearing loss is a factor. Communication is the key. Talk to family members if you don’t understand, or if things are too loud. Suggest changes that can help make a positive effect in your experience.

How Can I Help a Family Member?

If you notice a family member answers questions incorrectly, has difficulty communicating during increased background noise, or tells others they’re mumbling, it may be their hearing that is causing a problem. If a family member has not yet sought medical attention for their condition, let them know there is professional help to test and treat for hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss can be embarrassing and lead to social withdrawal. Don’t let your family members miss out on the festivities because of hearing loss. Here are some steps family members can take to help make sure the holidays include everyone.

Tips for Family Members of those with a Hearing Loss

  • If someone in your family has hearing aids, make sure the aids are clean, in good working order, and have fresh working batteries prior to the holidays.
  • Seek out quieter rooms for conversation, to reduce distracting background noise.
  • Encourage younger children to speak within five feet or less of the person with hearing loss, rather than across the room. The higher-pitched voices of children can be much more difficult to understand.
  • Remember not to shout. Shouting actually distorts speech and can make the problem worse. Speak normally and try to enunciate your syllables clearly.
  • Individuals with hearing loss rely heavily on visual cues. Keep the room well-lit and position your family member so that he/she can see others.
  • If a family member with hearing loss asks you to repeat something, try rephrasing it instead. For example, if you say “I’m going to the grocery store, do you need anything?” and are asked to repeat, say “do you need anything from the grocery store?” Sometimes a particular word or the order of words makes a sentence more difficult to understand. More concise phrasing can sometimes help.
  • Even if you lose patience or grow frustrated, don’t say “never mind” and cease conversation when the other person can’t hear. This can lead to sadness, isolation, and even depression.
  • Be attentive to your family members with hearing loss. Help bring them into the conversation and make them feel a part of the holiday celebration.
  • If you know a family member has hearing loss, seat yourself next to them. You can act as an advocate and help if they’re having difficulty following the conversation.
  • Try to keep the TV and/or music off when you’re at the table for a meal. The noise makes it more difficult for the hearing impaired to follow the conversation. In addition, everyone tends to talk over the noise, making the situation even more challenging.
  • If you’re about to ask a question, call their name first, or get their attention with a touch or a visual cue before asking a question or engaging in conversation.
  • Most of all, remember to be compassionate and communicative with your family member so they can continue to take part in your life during the holidays and all year through.

Should you recommend seeking medical help for a family member with hearing loss, you should know that hearing aids are not always the solution. Sometimes hearing loss occurs due to cerumen (wax) buildup, middle ear issues, or other issues that don’t require a hearing aid. That is why it is so important to have hearing checked by a hearing healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and course of action.

The holidays are fast approaching. If you think you may have a hearing loss, or have a family member with a hearing loss, or a family member who needs their hearing aids cleaned, call for an appointment.  563-386-8885. Happy Holidays!