Edit: Despite the fact the holidays are over, these are really good tips to follow anytime!
By CAROLINE ZUCK
The hustle and bustle of the winter holiday season is a joyous and busy time as we work hard to get it all done so we can spend time with friends and family.
However, for those experiencing hearing loss or difficulty hearing, holiday celebrations and family gatherings can be very overwhelming and often lead to feelings of withdrawal and sadness.
If you know anyone who may be dealing with the effects of lost hearing, the Better Hearing Institute offers some simple tips and suggestions to help keep the people you love feeling part of the celebration and conversation:
1. Be Attentive: If you notice a friend or family member is quiet at a holiday party or gathering, they could be having trouble hearing. This is a good opportunity to reach out and engage with them.
2. Turn Down the Volume: Loud background music or the roar of a TV can make it especially hard to hear each other speaking — even for someone without hearing loss. Consider keeping the volume at a lower level during your holiday party.
3. Light Up the Room: A well-lit room makes it substantially easier to see facial expressions and mouths move as people speak. It is not uncommon for those with hearing loss to be very good lip readers.
4. Speak Clearly: Do your best to speak slowly and at a comfortable volume without mumbling or slurring your words. Also avoid interrupting, which makes it harder to follow conversation.
5. Face the Person: Facing the person you are speaking with, as well as sitting or standing close, not only makes it easier to hear words but also to see your mouth and facial expressions. It’s also a good idea to get someone’s attention before speaking by saying their name or gently touching their hand, arm, or shoulder.
6. Rephrase: If someone did not hear what you said, consider rephrasing the sentence instead of repeating it verbatim. Doing this makes it easier for the individual with hearing loss to follow the conversation, as it may be a particular word or sound of speech they’re having trouble deciphering.
7. Seek Them Out: Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone who is having difficulty hearing is to seek them out and enjoy a one-on-one conversation in a quiet corner, a quiet room, or during a quiet walk.
8. Be A Patient Advocate: Some people are just good at being aware of others’ needs and empathizing. If someone you love is struggling with hearing loss, try to pair them at the dinner table with someone who will be proactive in making sure they’re following the conversation and patient if they need things repeated or rephrased.
It’s simple actions like this and being sensitive to others’ needs which will make this holiday season special for everyone!
Caroline Zuck, AuD, CCC-A, is an audiologist at Savannah Speech and Hearing Center. For more information, call 912-355-4601, email firstname.lastname@example.org