The holidays are coming!
Tips for attending or hosting holiday events with hearing loss
For many, the holiday season equates to family, friends and way too much food.
The holidays call for celebration, and celebration usually requires a party. Parties with friends, whether involving a huge turkey or simply a few drinks, should never be stressful affairs. If you experience hearing loss, however, noisy environments such as these may be tough to handle.
That’s why we have compiled some useful tips for the holidays, specifically geared towards hearing aid users.
Attending a holiday event with hearing aids…
These are ideas that are useful if you are heading to an event, followed by some tips if you are the one hosting.
1. Find a quieter area
It may be useful to try and find a spot to speak to people in a less noisy environment, whether in someone’s home or when out on the town. If this area also has little or no music, it will make things even easier to hear and decipher.
If you’re headed to a party at someone else’s home, be sure to disclose your hearing loss to the host beforehand, or at least at the start of the evening, and they will likely take your hearing loss into consideration when planning the layout for their gathering.
2. Notify the host ahead of time
There is another reason why it is important to tell the host about your hearing loss prior to the event.
Studies show that using a “multi-purpose” disclosure strategy, in which people are told about hearing loss alongside a tip for accommodating it, tends to receive a positive and helpful response. Adopting this strategy could be something as simple as, “I have hearing loss in my right ear. Could you please speak to me on my left side?”
In a noisy situation, it may be useful to ask the host to keep the music lower throughout the night or to direct you to a quieter area.
3. Position yourself advantageously
Another useful tip is to position yourself to ensure your “best side” is facing the action. If you experience hearing loss more acutely in one ear, it only makes sense to ensure that the side in which you hear better is positioned for the best communication ability.
In addition, if the event involves dinner around a table, ensure that you are positioned so that you can see the most people. This will enable you to make eye contact and, if necessary, to read lips or use visual cues. Good lighting can also help with this aspect of the evening.
4. Grab a dinner buddy
If you know someone else at the event, or you want an excuse to meet someone new, it is best to seat yourself next to someone that you have the least difficulty hearing or someone who is willing to fill you in if you miss certain parts of the conversation.
Research shows that men are more likely to experience age-related hearing loss and, often, one of the first signs of hearing loss is a loss of the ability to hear women’s voices or more high-pitched noises.
So, if you have a friend or a partner with a deep, rumbling voice, it might be a good idea to make him or her your dinner buddy for the night!
Hosting a holiday event with hearing aids (or with guests with hearing loss)…
If you are planning on hosting an event this holiday season, here are some ideas for setting the scene to best fit with your needs as a hearing device user, as well as any guests who may also suffer from hearing loss.
1. Turn down the volume on the holiday music
People come to holiday events to catch up with old friends and make new ones. If the volume is too loud on the holiday music, it can hinder conversation and provide a distraction. Although music can, of course, be useful to set the festive scene, keeping music soft and subtle can strike a good balance between allowing people to engage and keeping the festive spirit in full flow.
Consider positioning furniture away from the speakers playing the music as well. This is a useful tactic to ensure that people experiencing hearing loss are best placed to focus on the conversation, rather than get distracted by the surrounding noise.
2. Set up the room with hearing loss in mind
In addition to positioning furniture away from musical speakers, it may be a good idea to facilitate the use of a smaller room alongside a larger space. This would allow someone experiencing hearing loss to step away from the loud chatter and have more one-to-one conversations with others.
3. Set up the dinner table to enable conversation
Using a round table can really help with enabling conversations. If you or a guest who experiences hearing loss finds visual clues and lip reading useful, sitting at a circular table assists in this process and can avoid someone needing to be brought up to speed with the conversation taking place. It is also generally more inclusive and helps new people meet each other and larger conversations to take place, as well as one-to-one conversations if people wish.
Wherever you’re headed this holiday season, don’t let hearing loss get in the way. These useful tips should help to ensure that, with the help of hearing instruments, you have a fun and festive holiday season this year.