Holidays can be joyful family occasions, complete with love, laughter, and good conversations. It’s hard to picture the holiday season without seeing a large group of extended family spending lots of quality time together. If you have hearing loss though, thinking about Thanksgiving or Christmas can be daunting. Since large gatherings mean lots of extra background noise, too many conversations happening at once, it is easy to get caught up in it all. Here are some tips we hope you will find help as we approach the holiday season.
Okay, so maybe you can’t ask everyone to whisper, but there are a few ways to bring down the volume. This will ensure that you don’t have trouble following conversations with all that background noise. The most obvious piece of advice is to turn down the holiday music. Yes, you only get to listen to that holiday CD once a year, but maybe listening to it on full volume at the party isn’t necessary. If it’s too loud, everyone will have a harder time enjoying conversations. Keep the volume soft, and turn the speakers away from where the conversations are happening.
Another great tip is to use more than one room for the day. You don’t have to all squeeze into the living room, but can spread out into the dining room, or send the kids upstairs. Smaller groups will be less noisy, with fewer conversations happening at one time. It will make one on one conversations easier, and make hearing loss more manageable. It also allows people to catch up in small groups, with deeper conversations!
To reduce noise at the dinner table, consider switching to paper or plastic plates and utensils. Not only will you eliminate all that clinking, you also won’t have to be in the kitchen all evening washing dishes! If you have a round table, use it for dinner. Those with hearing loss will have an easier time reading lips and following the conversation when they can see everyone at the table.
If you’ve been invited to someone else’s home, you have less control over the listening environment. However, there are still a few things you can do to enjoy your time with the relatives, and not feel like you’re missing out on the conversations happening around you. We know you don’t want to make a scene or draw attention to your hearing loss, so here are some subtle tricks to make the evening go smoothly.
The best tip we can give you when you’re a guest is to find a quiet place. If you’re having a one on one conversation with your niece, try to find a quiet corner or somewhere where the music isn’t very loud. You’ll be able to hear what she’s saying, and have a pleasant interaction without straining to hear. Consider the lighting as well. Don’t pick a dark corner, since you won’t be able to lip read or catch the visual cues in the dark.
When it’s time for dinner, find a dinner buddy. This could be someone you don’t have trouble understanding, or someone who gladly fills you in if you do get lost from time to time. Try to pick a seat that points your good ear towards most of the people around the table. Sit at the end of the table, where you can see and make eye contact most of the other guests. This will help you engage in the conversation and follow what’s being said.
Finally, don’t be shy! It’s perfectly fine to talk to the host ahead of time, and see if there are ways to accommodate your hearing loss, like turning down the music, or finding a quieter room. Your family and friends will be more than happy to help you get the most out of every holiday gathering.
From all of us at Arizona Balance and Hearing, we wish you a happy holiday season!