Woman with hearing loss feeling isolated during holidays.

When you ponder Thanksgiving, what do you think about besides turkey? Does the cooking and preparing with the family start days before? Will you reminisce with each other as you follow grandma’s famous homemade pecan pie recipe? Is it warm and cozy not just because of the aroma coming out of the oven, but because you’re together? While the family laughs about your son’s latest girlfriend or watch the grandkids laugh and put on a holiday play, will you be enjoying with them? Or are you having a difficult time catching the punchline of every joke?

Hearing loss doesn’t have to define the holiday season for you. You can take control of your holiday experience, from hearing a salesperson at a noisy store to talking over drinks at the company party. You don’t have to be held hostage by hearing loss. Think about how to get the most out of your holiday despite your hearing loss. Here are some recommendations.

At Holiday Gatherings

Parties may be the most challenging for those with loss of hearing. To make the experience less stressful, here are some tricks:

  • Use visual clues to let others know what is happening. You don’t need to point it out. Something as basic as cupping your hand behind your ear can let someone know you’re struggling.
  • Your expectations have to be managed. There’s no point going to a party and expecting everything to go perfectly. Your hearing loss will definitely make things more difficult. Don’t allow the challenges to stress you out, just have a sense of humor about it.
  • Visual clues should be carefully observed. Someone is most likely talking to you if they are looking right at you. Let them know you didn’t hear what they said.
  • Perhaps try going out of the room, even if just for a little while. It will give your brain an opportunity to a rest.
  • Maybe you could have a friend pass you notes at a speech instead of whispering in your ears.
  • Some of the background noise can be blocked if you stand with your back to a wall.
  • Look for areas in the room that have better acoustics–perhaps a quiet corner.
  • Ask for a seat at the middle of the table so you don’t feel as isolated.
  • To get things you may have missed, enlist a hearing buddy to sit with you.
  • If there are any speakers that might interfere with your hearing aids, stand away from them. If the music is loud, ask the host to turn it down a bit so you can hear better, too.

Travel Tips

Hearing loss can make traveling more challenging but don’t allow that to get in your way. Here are a few tips to make your holiday travels go smoothly.

Flying or Taking the Train

It can be difficult to hear the announcements over the loudspeaker if you are flying or taking a train. There are some things you can do to make the trip smoother. Checking if the airport or train station offers any special services for the hearing impaired is step one. They might have special signs that visually show oral announcements or apps you can get on your phone to see track changes or other critical information. They may also provide priority boarding, for instance, or a sign language interpreter if you require one. If being close enough to lip read or ask questions is essential, you can request priority seating. They might also offer to take you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is possible until you ask, but do it a few weeks before you go.

When you get on board, make sure the attendants know you have hearing loss. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you don’t answer when they ask you about a drink.

Lodging Tips

When you reserve your hotel room, let them know you are hearing impaired. Vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing are devices that are offered for those who have hearing loss at lots of resorts. Some places are set up with fire alarms that flash the lights, too, to improve your safety while you stay with them.

If You Are Traveling With Hearing Aids, Take These Essentials

If this is your first vacation with your hearing aids, you may not be sure what you need to bring with you. Pack these essentials:

  • Extra batteries or a second charger
  • A cleaning kit
  • Additional accessories

Keep your hearing aids in as you pass security. Taking them out is not required. You can keep them on during an air flight, as well.

And if you don’t already own hearing aids, perhaps it’s time. In the newer hearing aids, there are functions that will eliminate background noise, enhance conversation while amplifying sound. The holidays are a once a year occasion. Whether you have had hearing loss the majority of your life or are new to it, there is no reason the holidays shouldn’t be all that you remember. To help you know what your hearing options are, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.

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