Holiday activities like family gatherings, dinners, religious services and phone calls offer us the opportunity to connect with family and friends and these should be fulfilling experiences. However, for people with hearing loss, these events can present challenging listening environments.
Consider, for a moment, your most recent holiday party or a family gathering. Was it easy to talk one-on-one with someone else, or was the buzz of the other conversations difficult to ignore? Did background music or the television make it hard to hear what someone was saying across the dinner table? Regardless of your hearing quality, these situations can be difficult.
You don’t have to spend another season straining to hear or trying to interpret the conversations happening around you. Alexa Lynch, AuD, FAA, an audiologist at the Audiology and Hearing Aid Center at Riddle Hospital, part of Main Line Health, offers some tips to deal with hearing loss during the holidays.
Notify the host in advance
Some people may be embarrassed or uncomfortable admitting to others that they have hearing loss. But attending a party and not being able to join in or fully hear conversations can be uncomfortable, too.
While you don’t have to share your hearing loss with everyone, it can be beneficial to reach out to the host of a party to let them know that you have difficulty hearing in certain environments. With this in mind, the host can make certain accommodations like reserving you a spot in a quiet corner of the room or a seat at the table that’s away from kitchen noise.
Arrive a little early to catch up with friends and family
Try to arrive on time or—if it’s okay with your host—a little early to any gathering. This will give you the opportunity to catch up with friends and family before it gets crowded and too loud.
Another benefit to arriving early? It gives you the opportunity to reserve your spot before a room gets too crowded. Look for a chair that is against the wall or a spot on the couch, locations that lessen additional background noise.
Don’t be afraid to speak up
If you’re having trouble hearing a conversation over background noise, ask the host if they wouldn’t mind adjusting the volume of the music or television. You might also suggest to the person that you’re talking to that you move the conversation to a quieter area. Chances are, you aren’t the only one who will appreciate a quieter environment.
If you have them, wear your hearing aids
Maybe you’re still getting used to the idea of hearing aids or how to use them. Maybe you’re shy about friends or acquaintances seeing you wearing them. Regardless of the reason, some people are just hesitant to wear their hearing aids. But wearing your hearing aids—or at least bringing them with you—is the most important part of making sure your hearing loss doesn’t get in the way of a good time.
Depending on the environment you’ll be in, you may also want to bring an assistive listening device to make it easier to hear or understand others and participate in conversations. Many smartphones have the capability to control your hearing aids to optimize hearing in your current listening environment. Your audiologist can show you how.
Hearing well for the holidays
If you find that you’re still having trouble hearing during the holidays or in group settings, schedule a listening needs assessment with your audiologist. A listening needs assessment can help you by identifying the situations that are most important for you to hear better in. Your lifestyle and priorities are also considered to find a hearing solution that covers all your most important activities.
Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.