Woman with hearing loss feeling isolated during holidays.

Besides turkey, what do you think about when someone mentions Thanksgiving? Do you begin days before, cooking and getting ready with your family? Will you catch up with each other while following grandma’s famous homemade pecan pie recipe? It’s warm and comfy because you are together, and a delicious aroma is wafting from the oven. Will you be laughing while the family enjoys hearing about your son’s grades or listening to the grandkids laugh and play. Or are you having a difficult time catching the punchline of every joke?

The holiday doesn’t need to be defined for you by loss of hearing. From talking over drinks at the company party to hearing the salesperson over the loud holiday shoppers, you can take control of how you enjoy the holidays this year. Hearing loss doesn’t have to hold you hostage. Consider how to get the most out of your holiday in spite of your loss of hearing. Here are some tips.

At Holiday Parties

For anyone who has loss of hearing, parties may be the biggest challenge. Here are some suggestions that could make the experience less stressful:

  • Visual clues should be carefully noted. Someone is probably speaking to you if they are looking right at you. If you didn’t hear what they said let them know.
  • Stand with your back to the wall. It could help block some of the background noise.
  • Find places in the room that have better acoustics–perhaps a quiet corner.
  • Maybe try stepping out of the room, even if just for a while. It will allow your brain to have a chance to a rest.
  • Manage Your Expectations. It’s an impractical expectation to think that you will walk into a party and find everything to be ideal. Your hearing loss will definitely make things more challenging. Just tackle it with a sense of humor and don’t allow the challenges to cause you stress.
  • Use visual hints to let others know what is going on. Something as basic as cupping your hand behind your ear can tell someone you have difficulty hearing without you needing to tell someone.
  • So you can feel less isolated, ask for a seat near the center of the table.
  • Move away from any speakers that may interfere with your hearing aids. If the music is loud, ask the host to turn it down a little bit so you can hear better, too.
  • Enlist a hearing buddy, a friend who sits with you who can repeat key things you might have missed.
  • Maybe you could have a friend pass you notes at a speech rather than whispering in your ears.

Travel Tips

Don’t allow the difficulties of hearing loss to stop you from traveling. Here are some suggestions to make your holiday travels go smoothly.

Flying or Taking the Train

If you prefer to fly or ride the rails, it can be challenging to hear announcements over the speaker. There are a few things you can do to make the trip better. Checking if the airport or train station offers any special services for the hearing impaired is the first step. There may be an app you can get on your phone that shows vital info or visual signs that show oral announcements. They may also offer 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 ask for priority seating. They might also offer to bring you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is offered unless you ask, but do it a few weeks before you go.

Make sure the attendants recognize you have hearing loss when you board. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you fail to answer when they ask you about a drink.

Lodging Tips

If you are staying at a hotel, let them know you are hearing impaired when you make your reservation. Many resorts have rooms or devices available for those with hearing loss including vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing. In order to improve your safety, some places also have alarms that flash lights.

What Hearing Aid Essentials to Bring

You might not be sure what to take with you if this is your first time traveling with your hearing aids. Pack these essentials:

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

Wear your hearing aids as you go through security. Removing them is not required. Also, during a flight, you can leave them in.

Lastly, if you don’t have hearing aids, maybe it’s time. In the newer hearing aids, there are features that will get rid of background noise, enhance conversation while amplifying sound. The holidays come but once a year. There isn’t any reason the holidays can’t be all that you remember whether you’ve always had hearing loss or if you are new to it. To help you know what your hearing solutions are, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.