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We’re rapidly approaching the holiday season, with Thanksgiving just about a week away. As with most holidays, Thanksgiving is a time to catch up with family and loved ones. For those of us with hearing loss, it may bring up a few stressors due to the busy-ness and noise of the festivities.
Here, we offer a few tips for enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with hearing loss – both for those who experience hearing loss and those who are hosting loved ones with hearing loss.
If You’re Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner…
Hosting isn’t an easy gig, no matter the event. The bigger the crowd, the more effort you’ve got to put in to make sure that everyone’s taken care of and having a great time. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you’ve probably got your plans mostly in order.
Ask about Accommodations
It never hurts to ask all of your guests about accommodations that make their life easier at a dinner party.
Turn Down the Volume
There’s no denying that everyone loves holiday music and it really sets the mood – but when it comes to dinner and conversation, loud music could really interfere with speech recognition for people who experience hearing loss. Try to keep the volume down to a low. Another tip is to turn the speakers away from the room, so that the music doesn’t blast directly into spaces where your guests are socializing.
Set Up Smaller Spaces for Conversation
If you’re hosting a big group, set up your home in a way that allows for smaller conversations, rather than sitting around in one big circle. Smaller group conversations are easier for people with hearing loss to manage, especially if they are in a quieter corner of the house.
At the Dining Table
Ask your hard of hearing guests if there are any accommodations you can make to simplify their experience at the dinner table. Sometimes, breaking up the dining seating helps, such as several small circular tables. If you have a rectangular table, place your hard of hearing guest at one of the ends – this helps them with a better vantage point of all of the dinner guests, which also helps them pick up more of the conversation.
If You Experience Hearing Loss…
You’re already well-aware of the things you need to hear clearly, from having updated hearing aids to positioning yourself in different places in a room for the best conversation. Before you head out to the upcoming holiday parties, here are a few things you can do.
Communicate Your Needs
We know that sometimes it’s difficult to draw attention to our needs, but when it comes to your friends and loved ones, keep in mind that they do want to make sure you are comfortable. Communication is the bedrock of healthy relationships, and researchers have found that people who disclose their hearing loss in a constructive manner – that is, sharing accommodations that others can make so they can hear better – tend to have an easier experience when it comes to challenging noise situations.
Ask your Thanksgiving host if they have a seating chart, and request to be seated at the end of a rectangular table. This puts you in a better position to see everyone’s faces and catch the different conversations at the table.
Focus on Smaller, One-on-One Conversations
If you’re hanging out in big group, you know how difficult it can be to make out the various speakers. Even with your hearing aids, a noisy environment may interfere with your ability to follow a conversation with multiple speakers.
Instead, have smaller one-on-one conversations to the side or in a quieter space. Look for a corner of the house where you can sit with your back to the wall – which also helps by blocking out background noise that may interfere with your conversations.
Make Sure Your Hearing Aids are Up to Date
Before the busy holiday season, come visit us at HearCare Rhode Island for a tune-up or repairs on your hearing aid. If you’ve noticed that your hearing isn’t as clear as it once was, perhaps it’s time for a hearing test to check your current hearing abilities.
From all of us at HearCare Rhode Island, we wish you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving!