How to Handle the Holidays When You Have Hearing Loss
There is no need to miss out on all the fun.
Posted December 6, 2017
The holidays are a great time of year, filled with family dinners and celebrations, gatherings with friends, holiday parties, and lots of socializing. I love getting dressed up, enjoying the decorations and participating in the general feeling of happiness that comes along with the season. But if I’m not careful, all the socializing and holiday hubbub can become exhausting and overwhelming. I want to be a part of the fun, but the concentration required to hear can be taxing, particularly at holiday parties held in noisy restaurants or similar venues.
Don't let hearing loss put a damper on your holiday spirit. Follow these tips to approach the holiday season with more joy and less fear. Please share your suggestions in the comments.
Position yourself in a good spot: For me, it helps to have a wall behind me to block the background noise. At a seated meal, I try to sit near the middle of the table, which gives me a better shot at hearing more conversation. At a cocktail party, I scope out a quieter area of the room away from the music and high traffic areas like the buffet table or bar and spend time there. If the party is in multiple rooms, I head to the quietest room. Invite some friends to come with you. They will probably enjoy the lower volume too.
Avoid background noise when possible: When I host, I keep background music to a minimum. Others may like to play music more loudly. Ask your host to lower the volume a bit or to adjust the volume in different parts of the room or venue. I always ask restaurants to turn down the volume of the music too!
Converse with those next to you: At a seated dinner, don’t participate in conversations across large distances. If you would like to talk with someone, move closer to him, or ask that you continue the conversation when you have a chance to be closer together. If it is a party with multiple rooms, you can ask someone to join you in a quieter spot.
Wear your hearing aids: Try different settings to find what is optimal for you. Practice at home if you don’t want to spend time experimenting at the event. It may take some time to get used to the new settings, but the investment is worth it.
Try other technologies: There are many gadgets now available that can help you hear better in a group setting including personal FM systems or other one to one communication devices. Some of my friends swear by these.
Have reasonable expectations: You probably won’t hear everything that everyone says, but that is fine. Enjoy talking to the people near you, then seek out others to socialize with during other parts of the party.
Take a break: Don’t be shy about taking a break for a few minutes to give your ears and brain a rest. Head to the restroom, or find a quiet spot in another room. Or go stand outside. Breaks help clear your head and build up energy for another round of socializing.
Don’t fake it: It is tempting to nod along and pretend that you hear what others are saying or laugh just because others are laughing. But it can be dangerous, particularly if someone is asking you a question. Be brave and be honest with others if you are having trouble hearing. It will make your interactions more memorable.
Give visual clues to indicate if you are having trouble hearing: Cup your ear with your hand to indicate to the speaker to talk louder without interrupting the flow of the conversation. I have seen this in action and it is very effective.
Bring your sense of humor: It can be hard to keep it all in perspective during the holidays when you feel like you are missing out on the fun, but try to laugh a little and be grateful for the wonderful friends and family around you. You may not hear every word they say, but you can partake in all of the good feelings nonetheless. Try to enjoy the moment.