Guest blogger Paisley Hansen discusses how to enjoy the holidays with hearing loss.
Tips for Having a Joyous Holiday With Hearing Loss
The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but if you experience hearing loss, they can be especially difficult. As much as you want to be a part of the festivities, hearing problems can present a special challenge for both sufferers and the people that surround them. This holiday
might be the perfect time to change that. Here are several tips on hearing loss and how to survive this magical time of year for you or someone you love.
Hearing Loss Affects All Ages
Many people associate hearing loss with the elderly. Although seniors can lose a portion of their hearing due to aging, there are also a lot of young men and women dealing with the same. You may have been surprised to see young people out and about wearing hearing aids. There’s no
age group that’s excluded, and anyone can feel the detachment that comes as a result of missing out on meaningful conversations.
Difficulties for the Sufferer
The feeling of isolation that comes from not hearing properly may, in some ways, be worse than the actual hearing loss itself. Some people tend to withdraw from activities and dialogues leaving them feeling awkward and vulnerable to misunderstandings. Holiday time can be especially tough with so much going on, and you want to avoid that at all cost.
Frustration for Loved Ones
Hearing loss can also be difficult for friends and loved ones in several different ways. First, the fact that you might not be able to be part of holiday discussions can be heartbreaking. They want you to be included and miss talking to you. Second, a family may push for you to get help
before you’re ready. This can create tension even in the closest of families.
Dementia in Older People
When a person suffers hearing loss, their brain works overtime to pick up the slack. Not only is this taxing on a person, but it can lead to depression and further isolation. In a worst case scenario, many people are left to their own thoughts and perceptions and, in some cases, this can lead to earlier than usual onset of dementia.
Stigma and Listening Devices
Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma today that surrounds wearing a hearing instrument in that it somehow makes a person look old. This is not true. Today’s devices are far more advanced than the clunky, old models of yesteryear. They’re smaller, colorful and some even work off
Bluetooth. Certain models can’t even be seen. Others look like over-the-ear Bluetooth pieces, so instead of looking out of place, they actually look very trendy.
Communication Is Essential
If you know that your family is worried, holding a serious talk regarding your hearing loss is essential. If they’re pestering you to seek help before you’re ready, it can cause resentment. It’s important to let them know your feelings and fears, and for you to understand them as well. Being on the same page can help avoid strain in the relationship and you can all agree on a
plan of action.
People May Shy Away
Some people may react to hearing loss by shying away at holiday gatherings. They may not want to speak loudly for fear of offending you or calling a lot of attention to the conversation. This can be especially trying if the discussion is personal or in a small setting.
Tell People You’re Hard of Hearing. If you’re headed out for a celebration and feel anxious, never be afraid to tell others that you are
hard of hearing. People are a lot more understanding than you think and will make every effort to make sure you’re comfortable. Being upfront can really help to avoid misunderstandings
within your group.
Avoid Cramped and Crowded Places
Attending events in small, enclosed areas with a lot of people can make for a background noise nightmare. People with unilateral hearing loss especially don’t do well in this type of setting. This includes bars and busy restaurants where the sound of clanging dishes and loud voices can be
overwhelming. Holiday shopping in crowded malls can be much the same. Instead, plan on small-scale shopping or dining in a quieter location.
When you’re at a party or dinner, be sure to position yourself where you can see everyone. This makes it easier to be in the middle of an exchange, and will help for making eye contact as well as picking up on cues and gestures.
Take a Co-Pilot
If you’re nervous about social settings, it always helps to take a trusted friend to back you up. Sometimes it’s just easier to get involved in chit-chat when you have a familiar face who can relay things to you that you might miss.
Navigating Loud Parties
Attending a party with loud music makes it hard for anybody to hear, even if they don’t experience hearing loss. If you’re headed to a large festivity with someone that has a degree of hearing loss, keep in mind that not only is it difficult to hear, but a combination of music and yelling produces sensory overload which can cause headaches and even dizziness.
Children and the Holidays
If you have children or grandchildren, the holidays are even more fun! Naturally, you want to take part in their gift opening and merry-making. Small children don’t understand hearing loss,
they just want you in on the fun, too. You don’t want to miss a child’s joy and laughter, or hearing their questions if you tell them a holiday story.
Is there any part of Christmas quite as nostalgic as music? Christmas tunes can be very sentimental. Getting help for your hearing can allow you to enjoy and relive the wonderful memories that Christmas music brings.
Get Decked Out
While you’re getting yourself decked out for a holiday event, if you’ve gotten an ear piece, it’ll be your best accessory! If you’re feeling apprehensive about wearing it, remember these instruments are designed to blank out annoying noises so you can enjoy normal dialogue. Your
hosts will be thrilled to see you taking part again, and you can be proud of yourself for taking charge of your life.
The Holidays Alone
What if you don’t have a large family or holiday plans? If you’re more of a loner, there are still a lot of things you could improve if you have hearing loss. Think of your favorite TV shows and specials and of course, Christmas carols. Taking care of your hearing is much better for your
well-being. You need to know what’s going on around you. It can also give you the confidence to be more social.
A Holiday Gift for Yourself
If you’re ready for a change this year, why not give yourself the best gift you can and find out about getting help for your hearing loss. You deserve to be included in celebrations, dinners and memorable conversations. Don’t let another holiday season go by without allowing yourself to relish every minute.
Listen to What You’ve Been Missing
What have you missed hearing the most? It could be music, the sound of a thunderstorm or the rustling of wind through the trees. You may not realize how much you’ve been missing, not just at holiday time, but all the time. Hearing means being part of an important family discussion. It
means voicing your opinion and listening to everyone else. It also means laughing at jokes and being included in decision-making. It can even mean hearing someone say they love you. It’s time to listen to what you’ve been missing.