Thanksgiving is approaching fast, and in many homes across the country, party planning is already underway. Who is cooking what? How many people are coming? What time should we eat? These are the questions hosts and hostesses will be sorting out in the days before the main event. But if you are someone with hearing loss who is planning on attending a Thanksgiving gathering, you may have a different question on your mind: will I be able to understand conversation?
Hearing loss is an incredibly common health condition, affecting about 20 percent of American adults. If you are hosting a Thanksgiving gathering and will have relatives with hearing loss in attendance, there are a few simple ways to make sure they feel included.
If you are hard of hearing and attending a Thanksgiving gathering at the home of a friend or family member, there are also some easy tips to help you hear above the din.
Read on for our hearing-friendly Thanksgiving suggestions, and enjoy Turkey day!
How to ensure guests with hearing loss enjoy your party:
What if you don’t have hearing loss, and are hosting a holiday party? There’s a good chance one of your relatives who will be attending has hearing loss. Follow these tips to give them a better chance of hearing conversations.
Keep the background music low, turn it off during the meal. Many hosts like playing background music as it adds to the ambience of a party. But if you want to play music while people are socializing, keep it at a fairly low level. Music makes people talk louder and will increase the overall noise level of your party. At dinner, turning the music off completely is a thoughtful way to make sure everyone can hear and be heard.
Wait to wash the dishes until people have left. Unless absolutely necessary, wait to clear the table until guests have gotten up and left their seats, and hold off on washing dishes until guests have left. The clatter of dishes can be very disruptive and make it difficult to focus on speech, especially for people with hearing loss. As an added bonus, you’ll have more time to enjoy catching up with your loved ones!
Designate special areas for different activities. If there will be many young children in attendance, set aside a room for playing or watching movies. If you have football fans in the family, make sure the TV is not too close to the dining area. It’s also a good idea to designate a “quiet area” where guests can go if they need a break from the noise, or to have quieter one-on-one conversations.
If you are hard of hearing:
Look for a quiet corner. There is usually time before the dinner to socialize. Find a spot that is far away from the kitchen (which can be a very noisy place) and the speaker system. In this quiet location you’ll be better able to understand conversation above the background noise.
Select your seat at the table carefully. Round tables are great, because it’s easy to see everyone. But if you’re eating at a rectangular table, choose a seat at the end, as this will give you a better view of people’s faces while they are talking. Sit at the end farthest from the loudest source of noise (the kitchen, the kids table, the football game).
Drink judiciously. Wine goes hand in hand with Thanksgiving dinner, but drink carefully, with an awareness of how alcohol affects you. If it makes it more difficult for you to understand people, you might want to stick to one glass.
Find a dinner buddy. Look for a friend or relative who you are close to and enjoy speaking to. It should be someone who speaks clearly and you can understand well. Your dinner buddy can make you feel more included in conversation and help to fill you in on things you might have missed.
Wear your hearing aids. If you have hearing aids, don’t leave them at home! They will be of great help to you at a noisy event like this one. Modern hearing devices are sophisticated enough that they can help to cancel out background noise like clanging pans and focus in on speech. You can take a moment to adjust the sound settings if you need to, once you arrive. And don’t forget to check your batteries before leaving the house, you don’t want a dead hearing aid in the middle of dinner.
Schedule a visit with us at Greentree Audiology. Our friendly team will check your hearing aids and make sure you are hearing your best at the upcoming holiday festivities!