The Hearing Loss Guide to Thanksgiving
As the start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving is a common time for families to get together to catch up. Beyond outsized personalities and relationships, Thanksgiving can bring its own, unique stress if you’re adjusting to hearing loss. “Do I want to tell everyone in the family?” “Will I be able to hear well enough to catch up with everyone?” “Will I miss things or be left out of conversations?” are all questions considered by many people, not just you.
Family get-togethers can be loud, with large groups of talkers and distracting noise from TV football games and parades in the background. And, while hearing loss can make such a boisterous environment even more challenging, there are practical ways you can catch up and enjoy the conversation.
High-tech and Low Tech
If you’ve recently been fitted with a hearing instrument, talk with your hearing healthcare professional before your gathering, and ask for suggestions for dealing with noisy environments. Since everyone’s hearing loss is unique, you should find out if your specific instrument will be helpful, or if you should just skip wearing it instead. Likewise, based on your specific hearing loss, and the instrument you have, there may be instrument settings that are ideal for noisy environments. Your healthcare provider can help you here too.
But, even the best hearing instrument can be challenged by the bedlam of a big family feast. This is where the low-tech and the practical may prove to be your best tools: Move to a room with less background noise. Let people know when you’re having trouble hearing them. When possible, position yourself to face the person speaking. Regardless of your interest in lip reading, non-verbal facial cues are extremely helpful for “filling in gaps” in spoken communication.
It’s likely that over the course of the festivities, you’ll miss parts of a conversation, and it’s natural to ask someone to “speak up,” or “say that again.” We’ve all pretended to have heard something we actually missed. Instead, when you’re with your family, take the time to speak up and let them know when you miss something. You will be surprised how understanding everyone can be when they understand what is going on. Whether your hearing loss is widely known or you’re keeping it private, these steps can help your communication go much more smoothly.
The Savvy Host
Do you have family members with hearing loss who will attend your Thanksgiving get-together? As the host, you can also take some thoughtful steps to make it easy for all your guests. Keep rooms well lit to make facial expressions easy to see. If TV is a big part of your family’s day, keep it at a reasonable volume, and consider turning on closed captions so everyone can follow along.
If you expect someone to give a toast or address the entire group, ensure your guests with hearing loss are seated close to the speaker, in a spot where they can see the person’s face. Without singling anyone out, make sure the speaker knows to speak loudly and clearly so “everyone in the room” can hear.
In addition to family gatherings, Thanksgiving is a time many call family on the phone to catch up. This can be a little trickier if you have hearing loss because you’re relying entirely on audio without the non-verbal cues. Plus, repeatedly asking someone to repeat themselves can be frustrating for everyone.
In this case, you may consider picking up a free CapTel phone from the State of New Jersey before the holiday. These phones are not only amplified—making everything louder and easier to hear—but they also display live captions of your call. With amplified audio and visual captions, CapTel phones let you hear what you can and read what you miss whenever you’re on a call. So, when you get the answer to, “What time do you want us there?”, you can know for sure they said “one thirty” instead of thinking they said “five thirty.”
Holidays can be such a wonderful time to catch up with friends and loved ones. With a little planning, combined with a few intentional steps, it can be a lot easier to enjoy whether you have hearing loss or you’re hosting people who do. If either describes you, take a few minutes to consider and share these tips. Doing so will not only make the conversation better, it may make Thanksgiving even more enjoyable.
How do you engage with others during noisy, holiday get-togethers? Share your tips in the comments below!
Posted by NJAdmin on Nov 17, 2016