Hearing Loss & The Holidays

Hearing Loss and the Holidays

During this busy time of year families tend to get together and sometimes it is a frustrating time for the hearing impaired. Lots of people talking all at once, dishes either being prepared or eaten, small children’s voices, the football bowl games blaring at a loud level and so on.
What is this like when you have hearing loss? Unfortunately many hearing impaired individuals tend to withdraw and sit in the corner while the rest of the family enjoys all the activity. They don’t want to ask everyone to repeat everything, they miss part of the words and are frustrated that they can’t follow the topic so it’s just easier for them to sit silently.
How can we help our family members to enjoy these special family gatherings? Some strategies to try:

  • When starting a new dialogue with the person make sure you say their name and make sure they look at you and realize you are about to say something to them.
  • Try to always look at them, don’t turn your back during the conversation even though you are busy doing numerous activities.
  • Minimize the TV volume, water running, pots being banged when trying to communicate with each other.
  • Don’t try to talk to them from another room or while walking away. Our houses have changed over the years and while aesthetically we may prefer the high ceilings, the walls of windows, the open rooms, the hard flooring and lack of drapes we have made it a more difficult situation for our hearing impaired family. With the changes in our environment we have made it harder for the acoustics to be optimal.

Another consideration is that we hear with our ears but we process sound in our brain. This ability to process quickly and correctly tends to slow with age and more so when a hearing loss has been left untreated for any period of time. Sometimes our loved one needs just a second or two longer before they respond to a question. If they don’t understand what was said it is sometimes better to rephrase the sentence instead of just repeating it louder.
If your family member wears hearing aids, remember-Hearing Aids are not cures, they are aids. Your family member may still have difficulty in certain situations and with certain voices. Be patient, don’t belittle them or leave them out of the activities. Hearing Aids also are not one size/programming fits all. Make sure to follow up with your audiologist and give them specific examples of situations where you experience difficulties.
Most of all, enjoy your time together and make lots of good memories.
-Dr. Lyn Rushton