Holidays and Hearing Loss: Making it Work

The kick-off to the holiday season can be a mixed blessing for people with hearing loss. We are excited to share time with family and friends, but large celebrations are not always hearing-loss-friendly. Last’s year on-line holiday celebrations were easier in some ways, but not always as festive.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and this year will be extra special. After a virtual holiday celebration last year, our fully-vaccinated family is getting together in person, including my daughter who we haven’t seen since she left for college in September.

It’s time to get back in the game by reviewing the tips and tricks that help us successfully navigate holiday gatherings with hearing loss.

It’s that time of year again!

Your Hearing Loss Holiday Survival Guide

Many of these tips will work for seated dinners as well as cocktail parties. Please share your ideas in the comments.

Plan ahead

Like with all challenging listening situations, it is important to plan ahead.

  • Contact the host a few weeks before the event to make any special requests like a particular seat at the table or setting up a zone for quiet conversation.
  • Pack your technology tools and extra batteries. This may include loading speech-to-text apps onto your phone or bringing a remote microphone or other device.
  • Consider hosting yourself so you have more control over the surroundings.

Self-identify and advocate for your needs

At the event self-identify and advocate for your communication needs.

  • Find the optimal listening location for you. This may be in a central part of the table for a seated event or a relatively quiet section of the space at a cocktail party.
  • Let people know about your hearing loss and provide specifics suggestions about how they can best communicate with you. The could include communication best practices like getting your attention first or speaking one at a time.
  • Use visual cues like a hand behind the ear to indicate you are having trouble hearing. The speaker can adjust their volume and you won’t need to interrupt the flow of the conversation.
  • It is easy to nod and pretend that you hear what others are saying, but it can be dangerous, particularly if someone is asking you a question. Don’t fake it. Instead ask for what you need to be part of the conversation.

Embrace all types of technology

Use assistive listening devices to assist in situations where your traditional devices are not enough.

  • Try out a speech-to-text app like Otter.ai to help you read what others say or utilize a remote microphone like a Roger Pen to bring the conversation directly into your ears.
  • If the evening includes speeches, ask the host to provide a microphone or ask the speaker to wear your remote microphone.

Practice self-care

The holiday season is exciting, but also stressful for many.

  • Set aside time for yourself. Enjoy reading a book or sitting quietly to meditate. Self-care will pay dividends.
  • Listening fatigue is real. Take breaks during the event as needed to recharge your listening batteries and give your eyes a rest.
  • Have reasonable expectations. You likely won’t hear everything, but that is ok. Enjoy talking to the people seated near you or invite a small group to a quiet part of the room to talk.
  • Keep it all in perspective. This can be hard to do 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.

Happy Holidays to All of You

I wish all my readers a wonderful start to the holiday season! Thank you for your sharing your comments, tips and stories with our Living with Hearing Loss community this year.

Readers, what are your tips for enjoying the holiday season with hearing loss?

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4 thoughts on “Holidays and Hearing Loss: Making it Work

  1. You often write about hearing exhaustion. I experience this in family settings but I feel that no one understands or believes how tiring it is, trying to hear in large groups. You’re a port in the storm for me sometimes, as I’ve been severely HOH for over 20 years but have yet to know anyone else like me. Thank you!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      It is so hard for others to understand, but it is real. You are not alone. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Hi Brian! I feel your pain. It does seem like many folks are unable to comprehend hearing exhaustion. Perhaps it is due to the fact that they hear without having to think about it. I find asking those who don’t get hearing exhaustion to imagine they have to think to breath. That every breath taken requires a deliberate conscious effort. That is what hearing is like for me. This explanation provides them something they can relate to. However the best treatment for my hearing fatigue is good self care; to include resting before the event, taking hearing breaks while at an event, and leaving events when I’m tired. Some times this means my husband and I drive separately. Take good care.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing what works for you.

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