Holidays are a time for family gatherings and celebrations. While most of us relish this time of year and the festivities that ensue, keep in mind that large social gatherings are one of the most difficult environments for someone with hearing loss. Even if surrounded by loved ones, not being able to hear or engage in conversations often makes them feel isolated.
Statistics show that 50% of us will have someone with hearing loss at our holiday table. Thirty percent of holiday gatherings will include someone with hearing aids.
We've compiled a short list of tips to make sure everyone feels included in the upcoming festivities.
For Friends/Family of Someone with Hearing Loss:
1. Reduce or eliminate background noises in the main gathering space, such as music or the TV.
2. Remove or minimize obstacles that interfere with a person’s ability to lip read, such as dim lighting and large centerpieces.
3. Ask your friend/family member where they’d like to sit. Seat them beside someone who will help them navigate conversations.
4. If asked to repeat yourself, consider rephrasing what you just said. Oftentimes, those with hearing loss have difficulty hearing a particular word or or deciphering a sound of speech.
5. When speaking to someone with hearing loss, stay close. It's often a good idea to touch their arm or shoulder before you speak to get their attention. Face them in case they need to read your lips.
Tips for Those with Hearing Loss
1. Choose a place at the table that is best for you. If seating has been pre-determined, ask the host if you can re-arrange yours.
2. Sit beside someone who is your advocate; someone who will repeat things for you if necessary and be patient with you.
3. Too much background noise? Move the conversation to a quieter room, if possible.
4. If the music or TV is too loud, ask the host to turn it down. Be polite, but assertive. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
5. If you have hearing aids, wear them! You can always make adjustments to volume or settings if needed.
Most importantly, we hope everyone enjoys this holiday season surrounded by those you care about most. Sending all of you our best holiday wishes. Cheers!