It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenging listening environments in the Christmas period. Even people with completely normal hearing often strain to hear, with rooms full of music, children and multiple conversations.
Luckily our Charity of the Year, Hearing Link, have shared their tips for managing Christmas with a hearing loss. Following this advice can help you to make the most of the holidays and fully enjoy the time spent with family and friends.
- Carrying a notebook and pen gives you the option of asking people to note down parts of the conversation you didn’t catch, or important information on times and dates that can be easily misunderstood.
At the party
- Choose your spot carefully – hearing aids don’t like echoes, so avoid hard surfaces. Somewhere with carpets, curtains and soft furnishings is the best acoustic setting.
- Talking to one person at a time is less stressful and more satisfying than talking to several people at once.
- Asking a friend to be a hearing buddy can be useful. They can help you to keep up with the different topics of conversation and repeat anything you have missed.
- Suggest games such as charades or story-telling, as the focus is on one person at a time, making the conversation easier to follow.
- Offer to help in the kitchen. This will give you a chance to have one-to-one conversations and takes you away from the noisy bustle of the party. Be mindful though that the hard surfaces in the kitchen may be a challenge.
At the table
- In restaurants, ask for a quiet table away from music sources and the kitchen.
- Choose a seat with your back to the wall to remove distractions and so that you can see everyone’s faces clearly to facilitate lip-reading.
- Encourage people to speak to you face on, without covering their mouths or whilst they are chewing.
- It is worth mentioning to the people sitting next to you that you have a hearing loss and may not respond straight away when they speak. You may be surprised how many people say they do too!
Taking Time Out
- Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself over Christmas. Listening can be tiring, and it is important to step outside for a walk, read a book, watch TV with subtitles or read to a child.
- Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. You can then return to the noise and clamour full of energy and enthusiasm ready to carry on with the festivities.
- Remember to be kind to yourself. Even people with normal hearing can find this time of year challenging and may be missing certain things themselves.
See the bigger picture
- Try to treat Christmas like any other day. You don’t always have to be the life and soul of the party – enjoy the day at your own pace.
- The day may feel long and difficult, but keeping a positive attitude helps you make the most of it.
- Consider all that you manage to do despite your hearing loss. Focus on all the things you have heard rather than the things you haven’t.
Tips for family and friends
- If someone you know has a hearing loss, get their attention and make sure that they are looking at you before you start speaking.
- Don’t cover your mouth, speak clearly (not too fast or too slowly), use normal lip movements and natural facial expressions.
- In a group conversation, try not to speak over each other or have multiple discussions at once.
- If you notice someone withdrawing from the conversation, make an effort to involve them and let them know what is being said.
- Above all, be understanding. Patience, respect and kindness are wonderful gifts this Christmas.