As the holiday season approaches, many people look forward to increased time around family and friends. However, with the increased focus on group meals, socializing, and celebration, those family members who suffer from hearing loss may find themselves isolated, misunderstood, and depressed. If you or someone you know has hearing loss, be sure to take steps to ensure a happy, joyful holiday season.
First, Recieve Professional Help with an Audiologist
The first step with hearing loss is to seek professional help. Hearing loss is often alleviated with the use of hearing aids or other rehabilitative devices. While this is not an option for all, it is important to be an advocate for change; hearing loss, while complicated, can be overcome. The focus should be on strategies that stress inclusion, clear communication, and understanding.
During Dinners, Talk Next to You
In holiday settings, large dining situations are common, but can be a struggle for the hearing impaired. If you suffer from hearing loss, be sure to strategize your dining situation. For example, focus on what you do understand or can communicate. Do not expect to be able to participate in every nuanced utterance at the table, but instead stay confident with your own conversational input. Talk and listen to the people directly next to you. Worrying about what you are missing instead of what you are contributing leads to anxiety and increased isolation.
Plan Who You Sit Next To
Other options and strategies at the dinner table include planning on who you sit next to and how you can contribute to both dinner conversation and other activities. For example, after dinner you might focus on a one-to-one conversation with someone you shared part of a conversation with at dinner. You might also want or need some quiet time so you can help with dishes and get away from some of the chaotic scenes at the dinner table. The key is to be kind to your own situation and put yourself in situations that reduce stress and increase your ability to communicate and participate with others. Do your best to increase your opportunities for success.
Turn Down the Background Noise (Music, T.V. etc.)
Since the holiday season is filled with noises more than just conversation, it is important to work with your host or family members to create better listening environments. During dinner, try to reduce background noise from holiday music, radio programs, or blaring sports commentary from games on T.V. Put the television on mute! Background noise greatly reduces the ability of people with hearing loss to understand and participate in the social fabric of the event. The small step of eliminating such distractions greatly improves the environment for all revelers.
Hearing loss is commonly associated with social isolation and even depression. As the holiday season approaches, think about your own hearing and those around you. Create strategies and opportunities to improve communication and inclusion for all family members and friends. Social gatherings are meant to create bonds and a sense of belonging. The holiday cheer can be best shared when all attendees can laugh, share, listen, and be heard. The extra effort extended reminds everyone that the spirit of the season rings for all.
Daniel Shaw is a senior health advisor at a senior housing community. Daniel, regularly helps senior citizens find answers to their health and hearing questions. As well as to their friends and families. Daniel enjoys, the community atmosphere and loves taking walks in the evenings with some of its seniors.