Woman with hearing loss feeling isolated during holidays.

When you think about Thanksgiving, what do you think about other than turkey? Do you start days before, cooking and preparing with your family? Will you reminisce with each other as you follow grandma’s famous homemade pecan pie recipe? Is it warm and cozy not just because of the aroma coming out of the oven, but because you’re together? As the family laughs about your son’s latest dating adventure or watch the grandkids laugh and put on a holiday play, will you be laughing with them? Or are you struggling to catch the punchline of every joke?

Hearing loss doesn’t have to define the holiday season for you. You can take control of your holiday experience, from hearing a salesperson at a noisy store to talking over drinks at the company get together. Hearing loss doesn’t need to hold you hostage. Consider how to get the most out of your holiday despite your loss of hearing. Here are some tips.

Those Holiday Gatherings

Get-togethers might be the most challenging for those with loss of hearing. Here are some tricks that will make the experience less stressful:

  • If there are any speakers which might interfere with your hearing aids, stand away from them. If the music is loud, ask someone to turn it down a bit so you can hear better, too.
  • Step out of the room every once in a while. It will give your brain a chance to a rest.
  • Enlist a hearing buddy, a friend who sits with you who can repeat important things you missed.
  • Be aware of the visual clues. When someone is looking right at you, they are most likely speaking to you. If you didn’t hear what they said inform them.
  • Stand with your back to the wall. It could help stop some of the background noise.
  • Perhaps you could get a friend to pass you notes at a speech rather than whispering in your ears.
  • Your expectations have to be managed. It’s pointless going to a party and expecting everything to go perfectly. Your hearing loss is going to make things more challenging. Don’t allow the difficulties to stress you out, just use a sense of humor about it.
  • Provide some visual cues of your own. You don’t need to point it out. Something as simple as cupping your hand behind your ear can let someone know you’re having a hard time.
  • Perhaps there is a quiet area in the room that has better acoustics where you can go.
  • Ask for a seat at the middle of the table so you don’t feel so isolated.

Travel Tips

Don’t allow the challenges of hearing loss to stop you from traveling. Here are some suggestions to make your holiday travels go smoothly.

Flying or Taking the Train

It can be hard to hear the announcements over the intercom if you are flying or taking a train. There are a few things you can do to make the trip smoother. Finding out if the airport or train station offers any special services for the hearing impaired is step one. There may be an app you can download on your phone that shows vital information or visual signs that show oral announcements. They may also provide priority boarding, for instance, or a sign language interpreter if you need one. If being close enough to lip read or ask questions is essential, you can ask for priority seating. They might offer to bring you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is offered until you ask, but do it a few weeks before your trip.

When you get on board, make sure the attendants know you have hearing loss. That way if you don’t reply when they ask about a drink, they will know to tap you on the shoulder to be sure.

Lodging Tips

If you are staying at a hotel, make them aware you are hearing impaired when you make your reservation. Vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing are devices which are offered 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.

If You Are Traveling With Hearing Aids, Take These Essentials

If this is your first vacation with your hearing aids, you may not be certain what you need to take with you. Pack these essentials:

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

Keep your hearing aids in as you pass security. Removing them is not required. You can leave them on during an air flight, as well.

And if you don’t already have hearing aids, perhaps it’s time. In the newer hearing aids, there are features that will eliminate background noise, enhance conversation while amplifying sound. The holidays are a once a year celebration. There isn’t any reason the holidays can’t be everything you remember whether you’ve had hearing loss your whole life or if you are new to it. Make an appointment with your hearing care professional to find out what your hearing solutions are.