Worried about keeping up with the conversation at holiday parties, family get-togethers and other festive gatherings? Don’t let hearing loss prevent you from making the most of the holiday season. A few simple but smart strategies can give you the confidence you need to relax and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
Your most important holiday attire
Can’t decide between the reindeer sweater or the Santa pin with the blinking lights? We can’t help you there. But when it comes to hearing better at holiday parties, wearing your hearing aids is always the right choice. Modern hearing aids give you access to the sounds all around you, even in noisy situations with multiple people speaking, like restaurants or social gatherings.
Consider the extra help of an assistive listening device if you are in very noisy environments or in settings that put you at a distance from the speaker, such as holiday services. Discreet, clip-on devices let you stream sound wirelessly to your hearing aids for the extra boost you may need.
Powered up and ready for fun
Be sure your hearing aids are charged and ready to go before you head out to holiday events. Hearing aids with rechargeable batteries provide power throughout the day with an easy overnight charge. If you use traditional batteries, insert a fresh pair and bring extras as a back-up. If you haven’t had a recent hearing check, a visit to your local hearing clinic can help to ensure that your hearing aids are functioning at their best, so you don’t miss a moment of holiday merriment.
If your holidays include travels near or far, pack your hearing aid charger or extra batteries in your hand-held luggage. You’ll have back-up support at the ready if you experience travel delays.
Pick your spot
Time your arrival so you are early enough to survey the room and choose a location that is best for you. Stand away from the center of the room and the source of music. Corners create a good barrier to noise on several sides. Avoid high traffic areas like the kitchen or buffet table that tend to be especially loud. At large parties, stand where you can best see the crowd and make eye contact with other guests. Take an occasional break from the noise with one-on-one conversations in a quieter location.
Are you hosting the festivities? It’s hard to join in the conversation when you’re hovering over the stove or setting the dinner table. Advance planning and a little help from family or friends with last-minute preparations will let you relax and enjoy your guests.
A place at the table
Choose a seat that lets you see lips and expressions while people are speaking. Don’t try to participate in conversations across large distances. Chat with people seated closest to you. The best seat may be the one beside a friend or loved one who can help fill you in on parts of the conversation you may miss.
While it may be tempting to nod and pretend you hear, don’t hesitate to let other guests know you have a hearing loss. Ask them to speak a little clearer and louder and to slow down a bit. Most people are happy to accommodate. Simple visual cues, like placing your hand to your ear, can signal to the speaker to speak up without interrupting the flow of the conversation.
Keep a positive perspective
Engage in activities you enjoy and don't be afraid to say no to an activity that seems too stressful. In noisy holiday settings, even people without hearing loss may have trouble following conversations. Short breaks can help you to re-energize when you feel fatigue setting in.
Even with the best planning, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with the conversation at holiday gatherings. Let that be your wake-up call to schedule a hearing check-up. With expert hearing care and the right hearing solution, you can look forward to a New Year of better hearing.
How to support loved ones with hearing loss
Help them feel they are a valued part of the celebration with a few simple, thoughtful strategies:
- Speak naturally and clearly but don’t shout. If you are asked to repeat, try rephrasing instead.
- Touch their arm or shoulder or give a visual cue to get their attention before you speak.
- Stay attentive so you can help if they’re having difficulty following conversation.
- Reduce excess noise, like background music or the TV.
- Most importantly, build their confidence by being patient and respectful.
To find your local participating clinic, please visit https://www.campaignforbetterhearing.org/about#Go-to-campaign.