Here we are, right in the midst of the holiday season! One highlight of this time of year is the opportunity to spend time with family and friends at big parties, small get-togethers, and even getting some quality time with our immediate families. The preparation for these events can’t be forgotten either. Although the tasks can feel endless at times, they are also fun aren’t they? Buying groceries and cooking for a big event can test our culinary skills indeed. Running errands around town can be chaotic with holiday traffic everywhere we turn, but the hustle and bustle also puts a buzz of excited energy in the air. Cleaning up the house for a gathering may seem mundane until you remember the connections with our loved ones that are maintained through these annual events. Those of us who have to travel across the country to meet up with our loved ones have a difficult task, as well, but the travel to see our loved ones has an underlying tone of anticipation.
Through all of these holiday activities, both attending gatherings and preparing for them, we can’t forget to include our loved ones with hearing loss in the process. A few simple tips can help us incorporate these family members into everything we do without overwhelming or stressing them out.
Although you might worry that the process could be stressful or overwhelming, why not invite your family members with hearing loss along with you while you prepare for the holidays? They can join you for all of these preparatory tasks with just a few accommodations made. First of all, make sure that your family members with hearing loss are driving safely. If they do not have hearing aids, you might want to start a discussion about the dangers of driving with impaired hearing. For those who do have hearing aids, make sure to remind them how important it is to have assisted hearing on the road. While you go together shopping or running errands, be sure to stay within eyeshot as much as possible. If your loved one gets separated from the group, they may not be able to hear you calling their name. If noisy locations are a part of your preparation process, stand close by your loved one to communicate, looking them straight in the eye to assist communication.
When the time finally comes for a holiday party or gathering, it’s your time to really shine! Make sure that your loved one with hearing loss is able to do the same. A few simple tips will help make any gathering easier on your family member with hearing loss. First of all, it can help to speak more loudly, but take care with your tone. Raising your voice can often come with a feeling of annoyance or even anger. Be careful to keep your voice easy and gentle even when you raise the volume.
If you find your loved one in an awkward placement at a table or other arrangement, take the initiative to help them move to the middle of the group. Some subtle acts of translation can be helpful, as well. If you know that a person is speaking too quietly or is to far away to be understood, fill in the details for your loved one with hearing loss; context clues are very helpful. Don’t simply repeat the same thing over and over if your loved one cannot hear what you say. Instead, rephrase slightly, offering new context clues to help aid in the process of understanding. Reducing the background noise can be quite helpful, as well. Some music in the background is a surefire way to get any party in the festive mood, but make sure that it doesn’t simply make people raise their voices to compete for volume. If so, turn the background music down a few notches and watch as the group speaks more quietly.
These are just a few of the ways that you can consider the needs of your hearing-impaired family member at the gathering, but the most important thing is to make sure they feel included and like an essential part of the group.
If you believe you have a hearing loss, why not give yourself the gift of hearing this holiday? Hearing loss affects you – and your loved ones. Difficulties with speech recognition could make communication a struggle, especially during the busy holiday season. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to schedule an appointment for a hearing test today.