The holiday season brings to mind bustling shopping malls, lively parties, and family gatherings – all situations that can be stressful if you’re a person with hearing loss. Sometimes, people who have difficulty hearing avoid social situations as a way to minimize stress, but that means missing out on fun and memorable events.

You don’t have to skip the holiday festivities. Plan in advance, and be forthcoming about your hearing loss, so you can enjoy your time with others.

Dinner Party Dynamics

When you’re invited to a dinner party, tell your host that you have hearing loss. It’s OK to ask questions about what you can expect, such as the number of guests, and whether seating is assigned. (If seating is assigned, ask if you can have some input on where you sit).

If dining with a large group, the ideal place to sit depends on what makes you most comfortable. You may want to be seated in the middle of the table, so you can chat with people on either side of you, or you may want to sit at the end, next to a friend or relative who’s willing to relay bits of conversations that you were unable to hear. If possible, sit with your back to the wall so no noise is behind you.

Many hearing instruments are compatible with external directional microphones, small enough to be carried in a shirt pocket. These inexpensive devices allow the wearer to aim the microphone at a person who’s speaking, for clearer-sounding speech. If your holiday plans include several large gatherings, an external microphone may be a good investment.

Tips for Hosting a Gathering

Hosting your own holiday gathering gives you complete control over your environment. Do let guests know about any specifics they might not be expecting, such as:

  • A designated TV room – If your relatives are expecting to watch a football game, parade, or holiday movie, consider sequestering them in a different room, to minimize background noise in the main area of your home.
  • A separate dining area for children – If your family includes young children, it’s perfectly acceptable to designate a separate dining table for children.
  • Soft music – Keeping the holiday music at a low volume will help you better communicate with people.

General Tips for a Better Experience

Get comfortable with suggesting alternatives – if you know that a noisy dinner party in a busy restaurant would be too much for you, politely decline the invitation, but ask the host if you can get together separately on a different day.

Anytime you can’t hear someone, or you can’t quite make out what they’re saying, cup your hand behind your ear so the speaker knows you’re having trouble hearing. Ask the speaker to rephrase – not repeat – what they just said.

When attending or hosting a gathering, step outside with a friend or relative, if you start to feel overwhelmed. A few minutes of peace and quiet can be quite calming.

Before the holidays arrive – especially if you’ll be traveling – make sure your hearing instruments are in good condition, your batteries are fully charged, and you have your charger and storage case with you. If you need your hearing device adjusted, cleaned, or inspected, contact Lowe Audiology.