Posted on: December 5, 2011

It is that time of year again. That’s right; the holiday season is upon us. Bustling malls, family gatherings, unwrapping gifts with children and grandchildren.  For many this is a joyous time of year spent celebrating with family and friends. However, all too often the holidays are an especially difficult time of year for people with hearing loss.

Many people with hearing loss feel anxious about holiday gatherings. They may worry that they will miss out on conversation or look “lost” in front of relatives. This can lead to withdrawal from group conversations and feelings of isolation and frustration. No one should be left out during the holiday season. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to make holiday gatherings a little easier:

  1. Reduce the background noise. Ask your host to turn off the TV and any background music. If turning off the TV is not an option ask them to turn down the volume or set it to mute.
  2. It is easier to hear one-on-one. Try to talk to relatives one at a time. Take the conversation to a quiet part of the room if possible.
  3. At dinner, sit where you can easily see people’s faces. For example, don’t sit facing a window as the glare can make it difficult to see the faces of the people you are talking to.
  4. Inevitably, you will find it easier to hear certain people over others. Try to sit next to the person or people you have the easiest time hearing or lip reading.
  5. At particularly large family dinners don’t expect to hear everyone at the table. Instead, focus on the conversation of the people immediately beside or in front of you.
  6. Ask the person next to you for the topic of conversation. Knowing the topic can help you “fill in the blanks” if you do happen to miss something.
  7. If you do miss part of the conversation, don’t panic. Ask for repetition. Try asking specifically for the part you missed, rather than simply saying “what.”
  8. Assistive listening devices are also available that can help you hear in background noise. For example, you can get FM systems that come with an external microphone that can be worn by you or passed around the table. These devices work on their own or in conjunction with hearing aids. Ask your hearing health care professional for more information.
  9. 90% of people that have trouble hearing can successfully be helped with hearing aids. A hearing health care professional would certainly take the time to sit down with you and answer all the questions and concerns that you may have. S/he can also make suggestions and recommendations to help you hear the best you can and improve your quality of life. If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, don’t hesitate to contact your local hearing health care professional to book a hearing test.

Remember that noisy social gatherings are among the most difficult situations to hear in. Keep in mind that you will not hear everything and try not to focus on the negative. Concentrate on the things that you can do to improve your hearing. Above all, enjoy the company of family and friends this holiday season.