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.
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.
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.
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?