With everything going on during the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that some people struggle during holiday get-togethers for various reasons. One recent online study shows that 50% of families will host at least one person with hearing loss at their holiday table. For these loved ones, the holidays can be isolating and frustrating, because they don’t feel included in the celebration.
Here are some suggestions to help you have a hearing-friendly holiday:
- Minimize background noise. Skip the holiday music or television in the background. Background noise can make it difficult to hear. Consider having rowdy football fans enjoy the game in a different room.
- Pay attention to seating. Seat the individual with hearing loss at the head of the dinner table or middle of the table, making it easier for them to see all the guests’ faces. Round tables enable easy viewing for everyone. When setting your table, try decorating with shorter centerpieces to avoid blocking sightlines.
- Rephrase, don’t repeat. Instead of repeating the same words, try rephrasing. It’s very likely when someone with hearing loss mentions they can’t hear you; they may be having trouble understanding a specific word or phrase. This approach draws less attention to the individual with hearing loss by keeping the conversation more natural. For those uneasy or self-conscious about hearing loss, this will be appreciated.
- Skip the mood lighting. A well-lit room helps those with hearing loss see the mouths and facial expressions of those speaking.
- Capture attention. Look directly at the person with hearing loss when speaking to them, so they can see your mouth and facial expressions. To get their attention, gently touch them on the hand, arm or shoulder, or say their name before starting to speak.
- Speak clearly. Be deliberate while speaking clearly. Be careful to project, but don’t shout. Keep your hands away from your face when speaking. Avoid disturbances which make following a conversation more difficult.
- Ask how you can help. Be respectful and discrete by taking aside the individual with hearing loss and asking if there’s anything you can do to make their visit easier. Demonstrate understanding and compassion, and you’ll be an example of the true meaning of holiday spirit.
If you’re concerned about possible hearing loss for you or a loved one, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our audiologists.