When you think about Thanksgiving, what do you think about besides turkey? Do you start days before, cooking and preparing with the family? While you follow grandma’s classic pecan pie recipe, will you reminisce with each other? It’s warm and comfortable because you are together, and a delicious aroma is wafting from the oven. While the family laughs about your son’s latest dating adventure or watch the grandkids laugh and put on a holiday play, will you be laughing with them? Or are you fighting to hear what everyone is talking about?
Hearing loss doesn’t need to define the holiday season for you. You can take charge of your holiday experience, from hearing a salesperson at a noisy store to chatting over drinks at the company get together. You don’t have to be held hostage by loss of hearing. Think about some tricks that will help you to get the most out of the holidays despite your hearing loss.
At Holiday Gatherings
For anyone who has loss of hearing, get-togethers may be the most difficult challenge. Here are some tips that will make the experience less stressful:
- Use visual hints to let others know what is happening. You don’t need to point it out. Something as simple as cupping your hand behind your ear can tell someone you’re struggling.
- Perhaps try stepping out of the room, even if just for a while. It will give your brain a chance to a rest.
- Get a hearing buddy, a friend who sits with you who can repeat important things you missed.
- If there are any speakers which could interfere with your hearing aids, move away from them. Don’t be afraid to ask the host to turn the music down so you can hear better.
- Look for areas in the room that have better acoustics–maybe a quiet corner.
- Your expectations have to be managed. It’s an impractical expectation to think that you will walk into a party and find everything to be ideal. Things will be more challenging due to your hearing loss. Don’t allow the difficulties to get you stressed out, just use a sense of humor about it.
- Visual clues should be carefully noted. Someone is probably talking to you if they are looking right at you. If you didn’t hear what they said tell them.
- Perhaps you could have a friend pass you notes at a speech instead of whispering in your ears.
- Request a seat at the middle of the table so you don’t feel as isolated.
- Stand with your back to the wall. It can help block some of the background noise.
Hearing loss can make traveling more challenging but don’t let that stop you. Here are a few recommendations to make your holiday travels go smoothly.
Flying or Taking the Train
It can be challenging to hear the announcements over the intercom if you are going on a plane or taking a train. If you would like to make the trip smoother there are some things that can be done. Start off by checking with the airport to see if they offer any special services for the hearing impaired. There might be an app you can download on your phone that shows vital info or visual signs that show oral announcements. They could also offer priority boarding, for instance, or a sign language interpreter if you need one. You can ask for priority seating if being close enough to ask questions or read lips. They might offer to take you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is possible unless you ask, but do it a few weeks before you go.
Be sure the attendants recognize you have hearing loss when you get on board. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you don’t answer when they ask you about a drink.
If you are staying at a hotel, make them aware you are hearing impaired when you set your reservation. Vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing are devices that are available for those who have hearing loss at lots of resorts. Some spots are set up with fire alarms that flash the lights, too, to improve your safety while you stay with them.
What Hearing Aid Essentials to Bring
You may not be certain what to bring with you if this is your first time traveling with your hearing aids. Some fundamentals to pack include:
- Additional accessories
- Replacement batteries or a second charger
- A cleaning kit
As you pass security keep your hearing aids in. You do not need to take them out. You can leave them in during an air flight, as well.
Finally, if you don’t have hearing aids, maybe it’s time. There are features in modern hearing aids that can amplify sound while enhancing conversations and getting rid of background noise. The holidays are a once a year occasion. There is no reason the holidays can’t be everything you remember whether you’ve had hearing loss your whole life or if you are new to it. To help you understand what your hearing solutions are, make an appointment with a hearing care professional.