The holidays can sometimes be associated with loneliness, but what if being surrounded by people isolates you? People with untreated hearing loss often feel isolated in groups because they can not participate in conversation. Do not feel lonely because of hearing loss and cause you to not have a good time.
People with untreated hearing loss are less likely to participate in social activities. Your holiday gathering may be the social activity your loved one is struggling with. Adults with untreated hearing loss were more likely to agree with the statement “people get angry with me usually for no reason”. It is important for all members of the family to remember that feeling agitated over repeating something you said may further deepen a family member’s isolation. To prevent this try rephrasing your statement if possible when your family member cannot hear. Be receptive and understanding when a family member is struggling to keep up with the conversation. Helping them feel confident with a hearing loss will prevent them from withdrawing from conversation.
As a host there are a few strategies you can utilize to help your family member participate in your holiday. Keep the seating open or place a person with a hearing loss next to someone they want to talk to. This will help to encourage them to get into conversation. Sit them in a spot where noise is behind them. If you have ever been in a loud space, you know it can be difficult to hear, so imagine for someone with a hearing loss. It can be more difficult for a person with a hearing loss to understand a speaker with noise or many conversations. It may help to have a few areas where family can break off for conversation. This will also help with noise during the holiday gathering.
For people who have a hearing loss treated or untreated, there are strategies you can use to advocate for yourself and make your holiday experience better. Communicate with your family members about how hearing aids may not completely solve the communication breakdown or that you may need them to use strategies to include you. It will help to ask for the topic so that you can use the context to aid in following a conversation. Ask the speaker to face you, it may help not to be eating or having the speaker cover their mouth while talking. It helps to see their mouth to lip read. If your family is taking precautions and wearing a mask, ask people to get a face shield or a clear facemask to be able to see their mouth.
Look into hearing aids or assistive listening devices for your family member to help prevent them from social isolation and ease their holiday gatherings! Remember not to let your hearing loss get the best of the holidays and make you or a loved one feel lonely! If you want to be involved in your holiday gathering or you notice a family member withdrawing from a suspecting hearing loss schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.