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Woman with hearing loss feeling isolated during holidays.

When you think about Thanksgiving, what do you think about besides turkey? Do you start days before, cooking and getting ready with the family? While you are following grandma’s classic pecan pie recipe, will you catch up with each other? It’s warm and relaxing because you are together, and a yummy aroma is wafting from the oven. Will you be laughing while the family enjoys hearing about your son’s grades or listening to the grandkids laugh and play. Or are you struggling to hear what everyone is talking about?

The holiday doesn’t need to be defined for you by hearing loss. You can take charge of your holiday experience, from hearing a salesperson at a noisy store to chatting over drinks at the company get together. Hearing loss doesn’t have to hold you hostage. Think about some tips that will allow you to enjoy the holidays despite your hearing loss.

Those Holiday Gatherings

Get-togethers could be the most difficult for those with hearing loss. Here are some tips that could make the experience less stressful:

  • Stand with your back to the wall. It could help stop some of the background noise.
  • Maybe try stepping out of the room, even if just for a little while. Some time for the brain to rest and recover will be very helpful.
  • Ask for a seat at the center of the table so you don’t feel as isolated.
  • Use visual hints to let others know what is going on. You don’t have to point it out. Something as basic as cupping your hand behind your ear can let someone know you’re having a hard time.
  • Stand away from any speakers that may interfere with your hearing aids. Don’t be shy about asking the host to turn down the music so you can hear better.
  • Enlist a hearing buddy, a friend who sits with you who can repeat important things you might have missed.
  • Visual clues should be carefully observed. Someone is probably talking to you if they are looking right at you. If you didn’t hear what they said let them know.
  • Look for places in the room that have better acoustics–perhaps a quiet corner.
  • Manage Your Expectations. There’s no point going to a party and expecting everything to go perfectly. Things will be more challenging due to your hearing loss. Don’t allow the difficulties to stress you out, just have a sense of humor about it.
  • If you are sitting through a speech, ask friends to pass you notes instead of trying to whisper in your ear.

Travel Tips

Hearing loss can make traveling more difficult but don’t let that get in your way. Here are some tips to make your holiday travels go smoothly.

Flying or Taking the Train

It can be difficult to hear the announcements over the loudspeaker if you are flying or taking a train. There are some things you can do to make the trip easier. Start off by checking with the airport to see if they offer any special services for the hearing impaired. They could have special signs that visually show oral announcements or apps you can get on your phone to see track changes or other vital information. They may even provide a sign language interpreter or priority boarding. You can request priority seating if being close enough to ask questions or read lips. They might also offer to bring you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is possible until you ask, but do it a few weeks before you go.

Be sure the attendants recognize you have hearing loss when you get on board. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you don’t answer when they ask you about a drink.

Lodging Tips

If you are staying at a hotel, let them know you are hearing impaired when you set your reservation. Vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing are devices which are available for those who suffer from hearing loss at lots of resorts. Some spots have fire alarms that flash the lights, too, to improve your safety while you stay with them.

What Hearing Aid Essentials to Bring

If this is your first trip with your hearing aids, you may not be certain what you need to bring with you. Some essentials to pack include:

  • Additional accessories
  • Replacement batteries or a second charger
  • A cleaning kit

As you go through security keep your hearing aids in. Removing them is not necessary. Also, during a flight, you can leave them in.

And if you don’t already have hearing aids, perhaps it’s time. There are features in modern hearing aids that can amplify sound while enhancing conversations and getting rid of background noise. The holidays are a once a year celebration. There isn’t any reason the holidays can’t be everything you remember whether you’ve always had hearing loss or if you are new to it. To help you know what your hearing options are, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional.