Trying to imitate former holiday seasons for those with hearing loss can not only be tiring but also heartbreaking. Although nostalgia can make it difficult, keeping the people you love in the conversation and in the here-and-now this Christmas are two of the best things you can do not only for them but also for yourself.
Even when they’re surrounded by loved ones, people with hearing loss can easily feel cut-off from family and friends, and withdraw socially during the holidays. To prevent this from happening, put into practice these 5 tips on how to include those who might feel excluded this time of year:
- Be cognizant. Keep a mental tab on your loved one with hearing loss for the duration of the gathering. If that friend or family member seems quieter than usual, it may be because they are struggling to hear and could use some assistance.
- Keep rooms well lit. Ensuring that the event space is well lit will provide those with hearing loss a second method of communication — facial expressions. Even without hearing loss, friends and families gathering in such close quarters form the perfect equation for an inescapably noisy environment.
- Face the person. In addition to well-lit spaces, facing the person will also allow for your facial expressions to be more easily seen, not to mention making that person feel like they have your undivided attention.
- Speak clearly. To help overcome the inevitable noise, do your best to speak clearly, articulately and slowly, all at a good inside-level volume. On the flip-side, be sure not to overcompensate for the noise and shout while you’re speaking with them. By the shear volume of your voice you can overwhelm them, but the gesture can also embarrass them and bring to light their struggle.
- Seat them next to an advocate during dinner. We all have that person in our family — the one with a genuine heart of gold who is always thinking of others before themselves. Keep the person who just came to mind in mind for the person to sit next to your loved one with hearing loss. This advocate should be someone who is a proactive conversationalist and will work to facilitate conversation between your loved one with hearing loss and the rest of the dinner guests. Also, consider seating the family member with hearing loss at the head of the table. Positioning them in this way will allow them to more easily see faces, and in turn, facial expressions.