As we approach the holiday season, it can evoke mixed feelings for people with hearing loss. On one hand, it is an excellent opportunity to spend some quality time with family and friends. On the other hand, holiday gatherings can be quite stressful for those with hearing loss.
Large groups and noisy environments can be especially difficult to handle as conversations are much harder to follow. In some cases, the anxiety and anticipation alone are enough to make individuals with hearing loss avoid holiday celebrations entirely.
However, there are some helpful approaches that can be taken to help make the situation smoother and stress-free.
Helpful Tips to Enjoy the Holidays Despite Hearing Loss
Whether you are experiencing hearing loss yourself or caring for someone with the condition, there are several useful suggestions that can take some of the worries and strain out of group festivities.
Make a Plan
Planning ahead is the best way to avoid unforeseen complications and to know what to expect. It can be very helpful to contact the host of the gathering in advance to get a clearer picture regarding the rough agenda of the event. That way you can plan to arrive and leave at the right times to get the most out of your visit. It can also be discussed with the host to arrange any possible accommodations to maximize comfort and vantage points. You may even want to consider doing the hosting yourself as it may be more comfortable operating out of your home base.
Share Your Plan
This may seem counterintuitive to many people with hearing loss as the general idea is to avoid drawing attention to the situation. However, trying to keep hearing loss hidden is not practical or likely even achievable. Hearing loss is nothing to be embarrassed about and the more people are aware of it the easier communication will be. Find a good spot to be at the gathering to optimize listening abilities and easily see people’s faces. Informing others of your hearing loss helps awkward exchanges where you are politely smiling and nodding but not really grasping the content of the conversation.
Go At Your Own Pace
Holiday gatherings can be overwhelming so it is recommended to keep things at a comfortable pace to avoid anxiety and fatigue. Find a quiet area to take a break from social activity to relax and recharge before coming back out for another round of interaction. It is a good idea to expectations surrounding the event reasonable and manageable. Participate at a comfortable level without the fear of missing out on something. Keeping things in perspective can make all the difference in reaching an enjoyable outcome.
Hearing and Listening Aids
The most practical resolution to the majority of hearing loss issues is to use hearing aids or other listening devices. Hearing aids are the most effective approach as they are catered specifically to the needs of the individual. Hearing aids provide a more permanent solution to hearing loss that lasts long after the holiday festivities are over.
For the purposes of a social gathering, assistive listening devices like personal amplifiers can be helpful. Also, there are several free speech-to-text software apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone that provide real-time closed captioning.