Anyone with hearing loss or who has a loved one experiencing hearing loss knows how difficult noisy holiday gatherings can be. Ambient noise from the kitchen, holiday music and television shows playing in the background, several conversations occurring simultaneously, and little ones playing are all part of the holiday experience, yet they can be overwhelming when one struggles to hear.
Hearing loss can sneak up on you, happening gradually, sometimes over several years, so that you don’t realize how much you have lost until you are in a social situation and realize you can’t follow the conversations. The experience can leave you feeling exhausted and frustrated.
Noisy holiday parties often are a challenge even for those who have been fitted with hearing aids because of the tendency for background noise to interfere with their efficient operation.
Whether you struggle with hearing or your loved one is experiencing hearing loss, planning ahead is the key to making the holidays enjoyable for everyone. Consider the following as you make arrangements for gatherings, parties and restaurant visits.
- For large dinner gatherings, talk to the host about seating near the center of the table where it will be easier to engage conversations at either end.
- If table arrangements will make for ambient noise from the buffet, kitchen or children’s table, seek a seat furthest from the noise, or choose a seat against a wall, which may buffer some of it.
- Ambient noise at restaurants is hard to control, so try to secure a private room. If one is not available, the hostess or manager may be able to secure a quiet corner for your group.
Overall, sensitivity to the challenges of hearing loss can be helpful as our loved ones are often uncomfortable or embarrassed to admit they are having difficulty. Watch for signs that someone may be struggling, such as leaning forward or holding a hand to an ear. Consider turning the holiday music off during dinner and attempt to steer conversation so that everyone is not talking at once.
If you think your hearing may be failing, don’t be afraid to seek help from a hearing specialist ahead of time, especially if you are noticing that phone conversations are becoming difficult or you find you have to turn up the television. Your doctor can assess your need for hearing aids or suggest listening devices that can be helpful in noisy environments where hearing aids tend to be less effective.
For an assessment, advice and guidance on hearing aids and hearing devices, contact the specialists at Hear Again Hearing, or click here for more information on how the Hear Again team can help you with holiday gatherings as well as day to day living.