Navigating the holidays with hearing loss poses its own set of challenges. Festive celebrations and family get-togethers become potential sources of stress and discomfort as you need help catching every word and staying engaged in the conversation. Background noise can amplify this struggle, making it harder for your hearing aids to deliver the clarity you need. However, with just a few adjustments, you can be sure to enjoy this holiday season to the fullest. Read on to learn our most helpful tips!
Let others know about your hearing loss
Talking about your difficulty hearing and sharing how you feel with your loved ones is an important place to start. People who know little about hearing loss or haven’t used hearing aids might not understand what you’re going through. Take a moment to explain what helps and what doesn’t so everyone can work together to make your holidays with hearing loss much more cheerful!
Wear your hearing aids
Get into the habit of using your hearing aids regularly if you don’t already. If you’re new to wearing hearing aids, the sudden increase in auditory input can be stressful or overwhelming. You don’t have to go from zero to full-time use right away. Take the transition gradually, wearing your hearing aids for a few hours initially and progressively extending the duration until you can comfortably wear them all day.
Remember that you’re introducing a significant change to your brain’s sensory input, so be patient during the adjustment period. Give yourself time before the holidays to gradually acclimate to and “break in” your hearing aids.
Use assistive listening devices
Hearing aids don’t mean you can’t benefit from an assistive listening device, particularly in noisy surroundings. These devices typically include earbuds, a headset, and a portable microphone.
You only need to position the microphone near the person you want to hear. Alternatively, you can transform your smartphone into an amplifier using headphones and a hearing amplifier app.
Choose a strategic spot at the table
Many holiday gatherings begin with a sit-down dinner, so you’ll want to arrive early to assess the seating arrangement and reserve your chosen spot with a coat or bag. Katherine Bouton, author of “Shouting Won’t Help,” a memoir addressing adult-onset hearing loss, recommends selecting a position in the middle of the table for better visibility of everyone and away from the kitchen to minimize noise interference. Additionally, positioning yourself with your back against the wall can aid in filtering out background noise.
Ask the host to lower the music volume
Background music has the potential to overpower individuals with hearing loss, and certain hearing aids can create additional “competition” for what you’re attempting to hear and comprehend. Don’t hesitate to ask your host to turn down the volume and sit as far as you can from the speaker.
Have conversations in quieter areas
Encouraging couch conversations is an excellent method to partake in meaningful one-on-one talks without the interference of background noise. Moreover, the sofa serves as a soft, sound-absorbing environment, offering a break from the acoustic challenges often found in other areas of the home.
Feel free to invite a cherished friend or relative to continue your conversation outdoors. The reason is noise levels tend to be significantly lower outside due to the absence of hard surfaces and other noise sources. Another simple strategy is offering to drive or planning to ride with someone to an event, ensuring you’ll have quiet one-on-one time with someone special.
Signal when you don’t understand something
If you’re having trouble hearing, feel free to employ the classic “I can’t hear you” signal by cupping your hand around your ear. It’s a practical and discreet way to signal that the speaker should raise their voice, and the added surface area around your ear can enhance the sound amplification. This non-verbal cue provides a practical alternative, enabling your friends and family to adapt to your needs in the moment.
It might be tempting to nod and pretend to follow the conversation, but that doesn’t benefit you or your loved ones in the long run. If you’re struggling to hear or if background noise overwhelms the conversation, communicate it. Often, making a few minor adjustments can make a significant difference.
Enjoy Your Holidays with Hearing Loss
Navigating the holiday season with hearing loss demands thoughtful strategies for an enjoyable experience. Openly discuss your difficulties, embrace regular hearing aid use, and consider assistive devices. Most importantly, get your hearing checked beforehand to ensure that the hearing aids you have fit precisely to your needs.
Schedule your free test with our Beltone Tristate experts today and advance on your holiday celebrations!