One of the best aspects of the holiday season is that there are numerous opportunities to spend time with friends and family. The holidays may even be a time to play host and welcome the people you care about under your roof. However, the din caused by all of your loved ones talking over a big meal or running around the house can be challenging for those with hearing loss. If you or a loved one have hearing loss, but still want to enjoy an array of social gatherings this winter, here are five tips for communicating more effectively during a holiday get together:
1. Find quiet areas for conversations
If everyone is in one common area, laughing and talking over one another, it may be difficult for a person with hearing loss to follow the conversation. If you’re hosting, designate a quiet area in which you can have more intimate discussions without having to try up keep up with everyone else. If you’re at a party or other social gathering and having trouble hearing a one-on-one conversation, ask if the other person would mind stepping into a quieter room.
2. Find the best seat at the dinner table
Hearing Loss Magazine recommends that if you have “a better side” when it comes to hearing, seat yourself at the table so that most people are on that side. In general, find a seat that allows you to make eye contact with as many people as possible. That way you’ll ideally be able to see their lips while they’re talking. If possible, set or sit at a round table so that you won’t have to stretch to see anyone at the table. When you’re hosting, you’ll be able to assign seating to create the optimal arrangement for your hearing.
3. Skip the mood lighting
While everyone loves a candlelit meal or dimmed lights when viewing a holiday film, dark environments may make it hard for a person with hearing loss to read lips or follow the conversation as easily. The National Institutes of Health point out that well lit spaces may allow people with hearing loss to better pick up on visual clues as well.
4. Talk to the host
When you’re out and about, don’t be afraid to politely talk to the host about your needs. For example, Hearing Loss Magazine suggests that if the television is loudly playing during dinner and it is making it harder for you to hear, ask if the host wouldn’t mind turning down the volume or muting it during the meal. If your friends and family sit down for a movie, ask if the host can turn on the closed captioning so that you’re not straining to hear the dialogue. Also have the host direct you to quiet, well-lit areas in their home where you’ll be better able to catch up with friends and family.
5. Partner up
If you have a friend, family member or other loved one that is particularly helpful at keeping you tied into the conversation, talk to him or her at the beginning of the night about partnering up. Sit by your partner at dinner and have him or her join you in conversations throughout the course of the evening. Your partner will be able to help fill you in on parts of the conversation you may have missed, as well as be able to help conversations move naturally.