Tips for Holidays with Hearing Aids

In Communication, Community, Family and Relationships, hearing aids, hearing loss by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Tips for Holidays with Hearing Aids

The holidays are synonymous with friends, family and often, an overabundance of food.

Parties and celebration also generally go hand in hand with the holiday season. Whether sitting around a dinner table salivating while someone carves a turkey or heading to your favorite bar to meet some friends, the holidays usually involve quite a few friends, good times and lots of conversations.

Hearing loss should not get in the way of those good times! Sometimes, however, noisy environments such as the ones that often arise during the holidays can make conversations difficult for those who experience hearing loss.

For this reason, we have put together a quick and useful list for people hosting parties and those headed to an event to ensure the optimum results for people experiencing hearing loss.

Hosting an event and hearing loss

Here are some ideas to get you started if you plan to host an event this holiday season. These tips will help you set the scene to best meet the needs of hearing aid users, whether that is you or a loved one.

1. Use a round table for better conversations

Using a circular table can make conversations a lot easier. Sitting at a round table allows those who experience hearing loss to use visual clues or lip-read if necessary. It also helps to avoid someone asking to be brought up to speed – instead, they can keep up much easier.

Round tables also generally help to create a more inclusive environment and bring people together, whether old friends or new. Larger conversations can take place more easily but it also allows people to have one-to-one conversations if they wish.

2. Thinking about hearing loss when setting up the room

In addition to using round tables, it may be helpful to open up a smaller room together with a larger space. This gives someone experiencing hearing loss a space to easily step away from the loudness of people attempting to talk over other people or music, for instance, and allows for a place to have more one-to-one conversations with others.

Consider positioning furniture away from musical speakers as well. This tactic is useful to ensure that people experiencing hearing loss are able to focus on the conversation, rather than get distracted by the surrounding noise.

3. Lower the volume on the holiday music

Speaking of music, turn it down! The holidays are about catching up with family and friends, and often meeting new people too. If the holiday music is on high volume, it can impact on conversations and distract people. Music is great for setting a festive scene, but it is important to strike a good balance between enabling conversations and keeping that festive spirit going.

By keeping music soft and subtle, you can ensure that conversations are flowing and those experiencing hearing loss have a great experience at your holiday event.

Going to an event and hearing loss

If you are headed to an event, here are some useful ideas for maximizing your conversational ability.

1. Tell the host ahead of time

It is important to tell the host about your hearing loss prior to the event.

By telling your host about your hearing loss beforehand, you are actually using what a recent study titled a “multi-purpose” disclosure strategy. This study showed that using this strategy generally results in a positive and helpful response from people, as it involves both disclosing hearing loss and providing people with a way to accommodate it.

This strategy can involve something as simple as, “I have hearing loss in my right ear. Could you please speak to me on my left side?”

If things get noisy, it may be useful to ask the host to keep the music lower throughout the night or to direct you to a quieter area.

2. Find a quieter area

Another reason why it may be helpful to tell your host ahead of time about your hearing loss is that they may provide you with a less noisy spot. If this area also has little or no music, it will make things even easier to hear and decipher.

Hosts generally want to accommodate their guests. Don’t be afraid to ask your host to accommodate you. They will likely gladly take your hearing loss into consideration when planning the layout for their gathering.

3. Get a dinner buddy

It can make conversations easier if you seat yourself next to someone who is willing to fill you in if you miss parts of the conversation, or simply someone that you have the least difficulty hearing. If you know someone else at the event, then let him or her know you are designating her as your dinner buddy. If you are heading solo, use it as an excuse to meet someone new!

If you have a friend or partner with a deep, rumbling voice, it might be a good idea to make him or her your dinner buddy for the night! Research shows that men are more likely to experience age-related hearing loss and, often, one of the first signs of hearing loss is a loss of the ability to hear women’s voices or more high-pitched noises.

4. Position yourself strategically

A final useful tip is to position yourself with your “best side” facing the action. If you experience hearing loss more acutely in one ear, positioning your “best side” towards people will make conversations easier.

In addition, make sure that you position yourself so that you can see the person or people you are talking to. This is especially important if the event involves dinner around a table. This will enable eye contact and, if necessary, will allow you to use visual clues or read lips. Good lighting can also help with this part of the evening.

Whether you’re hosting or heading to a party, don’t let hearing loss get in the way this holiday season. These useful tips, plus the use of hearing aids, will hopefully ensure that you have a fun and festive holiday season this year.

From all of us at Hear Care Rhode Island, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!