We’ve all had the experience of being together with family during the holiday season and seeing Aunt Jane sitting quietly in the corner by herself. You might think she isn’t feeling good and wants to be left alone or is mad because she didn’t get the sweater she really wanted. But did you ever think she may be suffering from a hearing loss that is making her anxious and quiet? For those who suffer from hearing loss, this time of year can cause anxiety. The numerous dinners and get-togethers can cause listening difficulties right up through the New Year.
Northwest Ohio Hearing Clinic values family time and wants to help by giving suggestions on how to make holiday communication enjoyable. Here are some simple tips that will help your Aunt Jane feel part of the excitement during the holidays:
1. When you are out at a restaurant, remember to have your family member with hearing loss sit away from noise with their back to a wall. In this position, they’ll have less competing ambient noise to deal with.
2. When there’s a large group of people, take turns speaking. This will make listening easier not just for the individual with the hearing loss, but also for everyone else.
3. Get Aunt Jane’s attention before starting to speak. Call her name or simply tap her on the shoulder to get her attention. She’ll be ready to listen with both ears.
4. If she doesn’t understand what you said, try rephrasing it, giving her the ability to hear it again.
5. Make sure the lighting in the room is bright. Dim lighting makes it difficult to see faces and read lips. You might say, “Aunt Jane reads lips? I never knew that.” In fact we all have the talent of reading lips, but we might not rely on it as much.
6. If someone is singing, avoid speaking at that point. Wait until it’s over to tell your guests about the refreshments. The less competition to hearing, the better the experience will be.
7. To ensure Aunt Jane heard what you said correctly, ask her to repeat what she heard.
8. To enhance communication, talk to the other family members before your gathering so all are aware and on the same page on how to communicate with your hearing-impaired family member.
9. Before the gathering, ask your Aunt Jane, “How can I help make your listening experience less stressful?” Showing an interest will allow her to be relaxed and less anxious.
10. The best tip we can give you is, don’t have your family member wait to improve their hearing one more year. Seek help and advice before the family dinner. That way everyone can enjoy the holiday season this year.
Wishing you and your loved ones a happy holiday season, from our family to yours. Thank you for your interest in our column, and, as always, please contact us with any questions or concerns.
Randa Mansour-Shousher, AuD, CCC-A, is a Doctor of Audiology with Northwest Ohio Hearing Clinic, located at 1125 Hospital Dr., Suite 50 in Toledo (419-383-4012) and 1601 Brigham Dr., Suite 160 in Perrysburg (419-873-4327). ❦