Thanksgiving is coming up and for many people, that means gathering with family, catching up with them, and sitting down and having a nice meal together. For those living with a hearing loss, this can sometimes be challenging and bring up a lot of concerns about being able to take part in conversation. Loud rooms with a lot of chatter can be a difficult sound environment to navigate with a hearing loss. Here are some tips to help make communicating easier in these situations.
1) Wear hearing aids
If you have hearing aids, wear them! Hearing aids help with conversation, even in noisy situations with the different programs and settings that are enabled. Having a hearing loss and wearing hearing aids are not things to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. It is also a visual to help people understand and to adjust their own behaviours to accommodate you.
2) Let the people around you know about your hearing loss
If you are comfortable, let the people you’re conversing with know about your hearing loss and, if they’re unsure, how they can help make the conversation easier on you. Don’t be afraid to ask them to speak up, face you directly when speaking, or requesting that music or tv be turned down. These are simple things other people can do to help everyone have a good time.
3) Don’t try to fake your way through conversation
Smiling and nodding while pretending to hear the conversation is not going to be enjoyable for you or for the people you’re trying to communicate with. Pretending to understand what is being said is only going to isolate you from the conversation and make the people around you feel like you’re not actually listening. Be honest and politely ask people to be mindful of your hearing loss.
4) Choose the best seat at the table
Try to choose a spot at the table that has your back to a wall and where you can see the most faces. Generally, that will be the middle somewhere. Try to avoid speaking with people across the table and instead converse with the ones closest to you. It’ll be much easier to understand them and for them to understand you.
5) Take breaks
Take breaks from the noisy environment whenever you need it to prevent hearing loss exhaustion. Try to find a quiet spot alone or with someone else to have a more relaxed one-on-one conversation. Taking breaks can give your ears and brain a rest and build your energy back up for more socializing.
Most importantly, enjoy the moment! Even if you mishear something to respond incorrectly, it’s going to happen so might as well laugh it off! Don’t be too hard on yourself and just savour the moments you get to have with family and friends this holiday.