I love the Christmas season when there are more opportunities than usual to meet up with friends and family and to get in touch with people I may not see all year round. It is also the time of year when I have to prepare for being in very noisy situations, from restaurants and cafes, busy shopping centres and even around the dinner table in Christmas Day itself.
These are a few tips that help me stay involved and a part of the festivities and I hope they may help you or someone you know who may struggle to hear.
- I make sure my hearing aids are working well and have plenty of batteries to hand. I also keep some in the car and in a small holder attached to my key ring. That way I don’t get caught out if I am away from home.
- I remind those around me that I can’t hear very well as I people quickly forget. I position myself where I have the best chance of hearing and as far away from loud noise as possible. I am finding now that my friends are actually grateful to remove themselves from the main noisy hub also so we can have a proper conversation.
- At the dinner table I choose my seat, wherever possible, to give me the best chance of hearing those beside me. I often ask for things to be repeated so I stay involved but I also expect to laugh off the times I get things completely wrong. It’s so important to keep a sense of humour and nobody minds!
- Turn off the mobile phones for a while, especially at mealtimes. Whilst this is hard for many to do it makes everyone more sociable and engaged in the moment. Eye contact is a big help when you struggle to hear and have to lipread.
- I give myself some quiet time, short breaks away from the noises concentrating on conversation in loud places is very tiring. I walk the dog which gets me some fresh air too, even if it is just around the block, but a quick nap on the sofa or read of a book in a quiet corner may suit some people better!
I try not to turn down invitations to meet up with people but I plan ahead as to what the challenges to my hearing well might be. I am also aware when others in a group look like they are not engaging or finding it hard to join in, especially if I know they struggle to hear too. I let them know I understand how they feel and make sure they knows the content of what everyone is talking about.
Connection with people is a basic human need and this time of year is when people can feel more lonely and isolated. If you have difficulty hearing, you can feel very alone even in a crowd. So bear that in mind this Christmas and reach out to those around you.
Keep the conversation going and I wish you Happy Hearing this Christmas.