As families gather for the holidays, multigenerational celebrations can be a fun and noisy affair. Consider a house filled with a loud TV, children screaming, music, talking, and laughter. Most family members revel in this gaiety. However, for those with hearing loss, these events can be troublesome. Many don’t realize that up to one-quarter of adults between the age of 65 to 74 years old experience hearing loss. And those numbers jump to half of the adults for folks over 75 years old. What’s more, your relatives may not share that they are experiencing hearing loss. How can you help? Follow these tips for how to enjoy the holidays with hearing loss. With a few simple adjustments, you can transform a potentially anxious time into an enjoyable family function!
Regulate Environmental Factors
- Subtitles on the TV – Competing noises can be confusing. Between holiday music, football games, and multiple conversations, it can be hard to focus. Consider turning off the TV volume and turning on the closed-captioning instead.
- Minimize Table Decorations – While the decorations may look festive, they can obstruct the view across the table. Minimize decorations so that everyone can see everyone at all angles across the table.
- Keep the Lights Turned Up – Candles certainly set a cozy mood however, if the lights are too dim, it’s difficult to see the person speaking and conversations can be missed.
- Create a Stimulation-Free Zone – Make sure there is a quiet corner that allows for a reprieve from the action.
- Turn Off Music During Dinner – Music may compete with dinner conversation. Turn it off so all conversation can be heard without interference.
- Seating Arrangements – Consider seating the person(s) with hearing loss at the lively end of the table. That way, they will not have to strain to understand what everyone is saying.
- Organize Appropriate Games and Crafts – Encourage folks to color with the kids or read books aloud. Play fun board games or cards. Communally set the table or cook/prep dinner or dessert.
- Offer a Toast or Blessing – Ask everyone to take turns going around the table offering a blessing, words of gratitude, or a toast.
- Offer Explanations, Ask for Opinions – Keep an eye out for confused looks that indicate someone is not following a conversation. Pause, and explain a little deeper. Then follow up and ask what they think about the topic.
- Go for a Group Walk – Getting a little fresh air can stimulate the appetite/digestion and offer a break from overstimulation. Try to get in a stroll before or after dinner (or both)!
Be Supportive and Understanding
- Keep an Eye Out for Fatigue – Holiday gatherings can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Watch for signs of fatigue and provide a break from the action.
- Don’t Call Out From Other Rooms – During the holidays, it is tempting to shout from another room with a request or comment. Instead, pause and walk into the other room, and ask the question face-to-face.
- Capture the Attention, Speak Clearly – Look the person in the eye, speak up, and remember to speak clearly.
- Rephrase, Don’t Repeat – Instead of simply repeating what you said louder and louder, rephrase what you are saying. The person to whom you are speaking may be missing some elements of what you said.
- The Buddy System – Ask a person to assist during family gatherings. This can prevent the day from feeling intimidating or overwhelming and create a comforting, welcoming atmosphere.
Hopefully, these tips to enjoy the holidays with hearing loss will benefit both the host and guests. With only a few minor adjustments, you can ensure the holidays will be enjoyable for all!
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing difficulty, contact HASA. Our Speech, Language, and Hearing Health Clinic is a premier medical facility. Our audiologists provide a wide range of services, from hearing tests to hearing aid fittings and follow-up care. Contact us at 410.318.6780 or click here to request an appointment.