With Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, there is no doubt that the holiday season is here. While the fully stocked store aisles and endless TV and radio ads may focus on the things we “need” to get for ourselves and others, it’s the people we spend time with that really make it special. And chances are, at least some of those family and friends will have hearing loss.
Hearing loss is all around us
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), almost 38 million Americans have at least some trouble hearing. Those are just people 18 and over, too. The number is even higher when accounting for children with hearing loss. With statistics like that, if you don’t have hearing loss, you most likely know someone who does.
With plenty of holiday gatherings on the calendar in the weeks to come, now is a great time to plan and prepare with hearing loss in mind.
Holiday hearing tips
Whether it’s talking over turkey, catching up at a festive cocktail party, debating with Dad or gabbing over gifts, tips like these can help you connect and communicate even when family and friends have hearing loss:
Tune in and turn up: Whether you’re the host or a guest, stay tuned in to those you know (or think) have hearing loss. Do they seem to be having trouble joining in the conversation? Are they staying on the outskirts of the activity? Try engaging them in conversation on their own or bring them back into a group conversation to keep them feeling connected and part of the festivities. Everyone appreciates feeling engaged, cared for and part of the action, regardless of hearing ability.
Create the best setting: Considering candlelight and spirited holiday music for your get together? Keep in mind that it could make communicating more difficult for guests with hearing loss. Instead, opt for a brighter setting with minimal background noise to make it easier for those with hearing impairment to see lip movement, facial expressions and gestures and hear more of the conversation around them. This can also help those with hearing loss avoid extra fatigue from trying to listen through extra background noise.
Practice effective communication: This is crucial no matter who or where you are! Strategies like these can help everyone avoid confusion and frustration and help everyone feel heard and connected:
- Face whoever you’re speaking with – In any situation, make sure you are face to face when speaking. This allows anyone (especially someone with hearing loss) to take in the full picture of eye contact, body language and lip movement along with the sound they hear.
- Speak clearly – Avoid rushing, mumbling, talking too loudly or too softly. For someone with hearing loss, these can make speech more difficult to understand and lead to frustration.
- Rephrase instead of repeat – It can be easy to just repeat exactly what you’ve said when the person you’re speaking with hasn’t heard or understood. Instead, rephrase what you’ve said. In some cases, different words may be easier to hear and understand. A re-phrased statement may also offer deeper context for the listener helping them grasp what’s being said.
Tips like these can help keep everyone connected this holiday season, even with hearing loss. If you’d like to learn more about hearing loss and help family and friends who have hearing loss, contact our office. Scheduling a hearing evaluation may be the best gift you could give them or yourself this year!