It’s a month of festivities and celebrations, and it’s a great time to catch up with your loved ones. When we gather all in one place, around a dining table or a busy restaurant, the noise levels can rise. For members of the party who experience hearing loss, communication may be difficult and overwhelming.
As we look forward to festive music and lively conversations, there are a few things we can do to support our loved ones who experience hearing loss. And, if you experience hearing loss, there are also a few things you can do to make your holiday experience easier when it comes to hearing.
If You’re Hosting a Holiday Gathering
Understand Hearing Loss
First things first: if you do not personally experience a hearing loss, but you are hosting a holiday gathering with guests who do, here are a few things to keep in mind. Hearing loss affects different people in very different ways, but generally speaking, it hinders one’s ability to hear speech and environmental sounds with clarity. As such, to facilitate an easier time for your hard-of-hearing guests, you’ll want to make sure that the environment is not too noisy for them.
Ask about Accessibility Needs
If you are aware that certain guests have hearing loss, feel free to just ask them about accessibility needs. In the same way you’d ask people if they have any food allergies or need any other kinds of accommodation, you’re opening up a channel of communication that makes it easier all around for everyone to have a good time.
Consider the Set Up of Your Party Space
People with hearing loss – even ones who use hearing aids to treat the condition – often don’t fare well in extremely loud spaces. For this reason, it might be useful to set up your party space into smaller “break out” seating areas – a few clusters of chairs here and there, rather than one big open space. This way, guests who are hard-of-hearing can sit to the side in a smaller, more intimate conversation that will be easier for them to follow.
Turn Down the Music
Who doesn’t love holiday music? A party just isn’t festive without it. But if you’re planning on playing tunes all night long, consider turning your speakers to face the wall and keeping the volume at a manageable level. Even your guests who do not struggle with hearing loss will thank you! After all, we’re at parties to catch up with our loved ones, and it helps to not yell over the music.
Think About the Seating Chart
If you have a round or oval dining table – great! This type of seating is best for people with hearing loss, because it’s easier for them to see everyone around the table. If you have a rectangular table, think about your seating chart. Seating charts are already tricky things – you want to make sure the people who get along well are next to each other. Perhaps your hard-of-hearing guests have “dinner buddies” they’d prefer to sit next to – someone who can keep them in the loop during the meal.
If You’re Attending Holiday Parties or Celebrations
Make Sure You’re Prepared Before You Travel
Traveling always comes with its stresses, that could be amplified during the holiday rush! Before you leave on a trip to visit your loved ones, come visit us at Exceptional Hearing Care and make sure your hearing aids are in proper working order. When packing, make a list and check it twice – batteries/power source, cleaning tools, dehumidifier, and anything else you need to make sure your hearing aids are clean and functional during your trip.
Communicate Your Needs with Your Host
Whether it’s a big family reunion with several overnight stays or just a dinner party here and there, feel free to let your hosts know about accommodations you need to enjoy your time. Give them ample time so that they can make preparations beforehand for you.
If you are staying at a hotel, notify the hotel staff of your accessibility needs. Most hotels are equipped with alarm systems for people who are hard of hearing, in case of emergencies. They also offer vibrating alarm clocks and wake-up calls.
Look for Quiet Corners
Parties can be overwhelming, especially when there are people you haven’t seen in a year. When chatting and catching up, look for quiet corners around the house and try to have smaller conversations there. One-on-one chats are often easier to manage in big group settings.
At the Dinner Table
With a bunch of people talking over each other at a big dining table, it might be hard to keep up with conversations. Pick a dinner buddy who’ll help you stay in the loop if you need something repeated. Don’t be afraid to switch seats or ask your host to turn down the music.
Visit Us at Exceptional Hearing Care
Our team at Exceptional Hearing Care wishes you and your loved ones a happy holiday season. To make sure you’re hearing your best, visit us at Exceptional Hearing Care for a consultation.