For many, Thanksgiving is a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate. Although it’s a time to give thanks and to reflect on our many blessings, for many people with an unaddressed hearing loss it can bring up feelings of anxiety and isolation. Even when surrounded by family members and loved ones, hearing loss can impair one’s ability to interact and participate in family activities, often resulting in a sense of inadequacy and solitude. This is especially true when a family member’s hearing loss is either undiagnosed or recognized by their loved ones. To ensure your family can fully appreciate your holiday gathering by engaging in thoughtful conversation with friends and famil, encourage your loved ones to get their hearing tested and properly treated this month!
Pay close attention to those around you at the dinner table to see if they exhibit any of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss. If you think a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, here are a few tips to help them feel included in your celebration. Your vigilance could make all the difference when it comes to keeping you family engaged this holiday season!
- Always speak clearly and not too fast. It’s not necessary to shout or talk too loudly.
- If having a dinner party, consider using themed paper plates and plastic cutlery. An atmosphere of loud, clattering dishes and silverware can muffle their hearing ability.
- Monitor the volume of other background noises, such as music or television, so those with mild or undetected hearing loss can better follow conversations.
- Try to talk to you loved one from the side that he or she hears best.
- Keep your hands away from your face when you are speaking to your loved one, and remember to always face them.
- Make sure your family is informed of any hearing loss before a holiday get-together. Maybe write a loving, informative letter to remind your family to speak clearly, one at a time, and to use effective communication strategies.
- If you are travelling with someone with hearing loss, offer to drive so that your loved one can concentrate on his or her conversations instead of the bustle of holiday traffic.
The MOST important thing you can do for a family member if you think they may be suffering from hearing loss is to encourage them to get a screening. Many people don’t decide to get their hearing checked until it is suggested to them and, sadly, this could mean many lost opportunities to feel included during family gatherings. Better hearing leads to a better quality of life, and that is certainly something to be thankful for.