Untreated hearing loss has been linked to loneliness, isolation, depression, and a general dissatisfaction with communication in personal relationships. The holidays have also been shown to increase depressive symptoms for many people, especially those experiencing declining health. The intersection of these two factors can often lead those experiencing a recent change to their hearing to be hit hard with holiday melancholy.
Even when surrounded by the support of family and friends, people experiencing hearing loss may have an impaired ability to actively participate in conversations that lead to deeper connections. They may feel cut off and isolated when surrounded by the people that love them most. They might feel a sense of sadness or even embarrassment about their condition.
If you are experiencing hearing loss or suspect that a loved one may be experiencing difficulty hearing, there is hope for improving hearing in the demanding hearing scenarios presented by the holidays so that you can truly enjoy yourself.
Wear The Right Hearing Aids
It may be tempting to not wear hearing aids or turn hearing aids off at noisy gatherings if you’ve experienced a hearing aid that simply makes all sounds louder. The right hearing aid can filter unwanted noise so you can focus on the conversation. Try a modern digital device that filters background noise, enhances speech, and amplifies sounds in a more natural way.
Appoint a Wingman
Recruit a person close to you to help you be more involved with conversations in environments or with people where you may struggle to hear. This person can repeat things you do not hear or understand, and fill you in on any of the details you may have missed.
Create a Conversation Corner
A cozy, quiet nook in the corner of a noisy room, away from the clamor of kitchens or other work spaces, can help eliminate distracting sounds. This refuge will allow you to focus on having meaningful conversations rather than filtering through a variety of noises.
When it comes to seating yourself for dinner, choose a spot near the center of the table to maximize your chances of hearing the table’s conversation from a preferred angle. Put the noise behind you. The person you are talking with should have their back against a solid surface like a high back booth or a wall. Engage in conversation with the people sitting closest to you as people at the ends of a larger table may be inaudible.
Have the Difficult Conversation
If you suspect a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss, it can be a difficult conversation to have even outside of a challenging listening scenario. Approaching the topic before the holidays can help your concerns be heard and understood in a less threatening way. You can also help create a better listening environment during the party by engaging your loved one in quiet conversation, turning down any background music, and encouraging everyone to hold off on noisy activities like doing the dishes while trying to have meaningful conversation.