Social Gathering Tips for the Hearing Impaired

The holidays are almost here as are the social gatherings with family and friends. For those with impaired hearing, family get-togethers can be a trying experience. Understanding what is going on and trying to engage in dialogue with someone can be overwhelming. The good news is that there are steps you can take to ensure everyone feels more comfortable at your social gatherings this holiday season.

The Relative Who Doesn’t Listen

One out of ten Americans has a hearing loss and the holidays are a prime time to notice a relative having a difficult time. Hearing loss often leads to mental health-related issues such as anxiety, depression, and anger. The person with a hearing loss must choose to either endure the frustration of not being able to understand the conversation or not participate in the festivities at all. Try to determine if a relative has a hearing loss. Here are a few signs of hearing loss to consider:

  • Frequently ask others to repeat themselves
  • Turning up the television or radio volume much higher than average levels
  • Have difficulty hearing in noisy environments
  • Great difficulty understanding women and children when they speak
  • Inappropriate conversation contributions and wrong answers to questions

Plan in Advance

If you have a hearing impairment, it will serve you well to do a little-advanced planning before the holiday. It is a great idea to let your host or guests know that you have hearing problems. Take note of your surroundings and environment and try to incorporate the following tips:

  • Position yourself away from areas with excessive noise
  • Face company and avoid backlighting which interferes with lip reading
  • Before speaking, get their attention so they will be ready to listen
  • Use your hands and body movement if environment is noisy or poorly lit

If you are hosting a holiday gathering, be aware of hearing-impaired family members or friends. Here are a few tips for creating a favorable environment for those with hearing problems:

  • Always be sure that hearing impaired guests are paying attention before you begin to speak
  • Keep conversation face-to-face at a regular and even pace
  • If dining out for your holiday feast, try to choose a quiet restaurant with good acoustics
  • Try to keep your hands away from face and don’t talk while you are eating or chewing as some hearing-impaired people rely on lip reading to follow conversation
  • If asked to repeat yourself, rephrase your comments as some sounds may be more natural to understand than others

Relax and Enjoy

Enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Remember, if a guest has a hearing aid, don’t shout at them. Speak at a regular moderate pace and avoid over-emphasizing words. Avoid chewing gum, covering your mouth, and eating while speaking to your guests. Take your time when talking as it will give your hearing impaired guests time to process information and contribute to the conversation. Relax, and appreciate the company of your guests and the time you spend with them during this holiday season.


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