Helpful Hearing Tips for Enjoying the Holidays
Another festive holiday season is right around the corner, bringing families and friends together to reunite and celebrate. It is a time of year when there might be people in one room cheering on their favorite football team, or children running around and playing games in another. There are conversations happening all over the house as loved ones are catching up on the latest. However, while this time of year can be joyous and exciting for almost everyone, for those that wear hearing aids it can be very stressful.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, approximately 1 in 5 Americans struggles with hearing loss. It's an unfortunate, although common by-product of aging, and often impacts not only the person with hearing loss but also their family and friends as well. Holiday gatherings in particular can be difficult for people with hearing loss or for those that wear hearing aids.
Typically, people that have issues with their hearing tend to stay within quiet environments with minimal background noise as much as possible. It’s just easier for them and allows them to feel more comfortable as they try to hear clearly. Therefore, in large family gatherings where loud voices, background music and other noise can make it difficult to follow, participate in and feel a part of conversations and celebration, it is not uncommon for them to feel confused, depressed, isolated and overwhelmed. Even as their hearing aids work to decipher the sounds around them and understand what those closest to them are saying, there is a feeling of discomfort. The reason for this is that while hearing aids can be tremendous life changing devices under normal conditions, they still do have their limitations in noisier settings.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind this holiday season when preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings that include friends or family members that wear hearing aids. Just as the little things like table settings, side dishes, and deserts compliment that perfect turkey dinner, there are simple actions that can be taken to help make the holiday season experience enjoyable for everyone.
Five things to do in preparation:
- Clean Your Hearing Aids - While it’s important to make sure that the holiday meal is served on clean dishes, it is just as important to make sure that your hearing aids are clean as well. Before the festivities begin make sure the microphone ports and the output tubes of your hearing aids are clear of any debris and as spotless as the silverware.
- Don’t Forget About Batteries - Install fresh batteries before the turkey goes in the oven. It’s not uncommon to get a defective battery so don’t wait until the last minute to install fresh batteries. Carry an extra set of batteries with you just in case.
- Avoid Moisture on Hearing Aids – Even a small amount of moisture can cause problems for your hearing devices. Wait fifteen to thirty minutes after showering to make sure your ear canals are dry before donning your hearing aids. Then make sure they are working properly before the festivities begin.
- Plan Ahead to Avoid Stress - With some advanced planning much of the holiday season hustle and bustle can be avoided, thus reducing some of the potential stress that many hearing impaired people may feel during this time. For example, online shopping is a proven method of avoiding crowded stores and the anxiety that often goes along with getting through the Christmas shopping list.
- Sharpen Up Your Alternate Communication Skills - Keep in mind that you won’t hear and understand every word spoken to you. Be observant, read lips and body language to help keep up with conversations.
Once the mingling of family and friends has begun, cheerful voices, holiday music, and the clanks of cookware can fill the airwaves to intolerable volume levels. Instead of going outside to play with the dog, here are a few coping measures that can help bring some relief and make things easier;
- Put on your best smile and tell the host that you’re hearing impaired. Ask if the music can be turned down, and the lighting turned up. Oftentimes having something to do away from the crowd can help and offering to help out in the kitchen can be rewarding.
- Find relatively quiet areas and strike up one-on-one conversations. Make eye contact and let people know you appreciate them speaking clearly.
- Choose a seat at the table away from the main sources of noise such as stereos and people with booming voices. Also, try to sit close by someone that you have less difficulty hearing and that can help cue you into the conversation if necessary.
- Be aware that it’s your hearing loss, and it’s up to you to overcome the inherent challenges that you’re faced with. A positive attitude and a mental toolbox full of coping measures can make the holiday season something you look forward to instead of dread.
Most importantly, be thankful for time spent with loved ones, the opportunity to enjoy good food, and the advantages of modern hearing aid technology. With a little advance planning and understanding, you can make sure everyone involved has an enjoyable holiday season, including family members with hearing loss.