The holidays can be stressful for everyone. For families with loved ones with a hearing loss, this is especially true. Awkward pauses, frequent repeating, and being asked, “What?” over and over again are constant struggles that hinder communication for family members with and without a hearing loss. Here are some simple tips everyone can use that will help your family communicate better over the holidays.
Don’t repeat yourself; rephrase.
Saying your sentence using different words can give a little extra background to help the listener, especially around a noisy dinner table. Remember, the brain juggling hearing loss has to work harder, so there may be a slight delay before they respond to you. By rephrasing, you give the listener a moment to catch up and include them in the conversation. Additionally, many people with hearing loss have trouble hearing soft sounds like ‘th’, ‘sh’, ‘s’ and ‘p’, so expressing yourself differently will give the person having trouble understanding some additional context.
Address your loved one by name before speaking.
This is true for both those with a hearing loss and without. Grab their attention beforehand so they can prepare to listen. This gives the listener time to turn in the direction of the speaker so they can hear more clearly. Seeing body language and facial expressions are also important in communication and give your loved one social cues that support understanding the conversation. It seems simple, but these two steps can help a loved one avoid an awkward moment.
Keep distance from noise.
If at all possible, stay away from noisy or distracting places in the house, such as the kitchen, before and after dinner. Lower any background noise in the house if possible. Turn down the music or television a notch to allow everyone to follow conversations more easily. In addition, position yourself in the place that allows you to hear and see best. If you have a hearing loss, sit at the end of the table so you can see everyone and easily see each speaker in case someone forgets to use your name to get your attention before speaking to you.
Remember, the most important way to ensure holiday harmony is to be respectful and have patience. The holidays can also be the perfect time to gently encourage your loved one to get their hearing tested and committing to attending their appointment with them. If your loved one is receptive to getting their hearing evaluated, you might also consider giving the gift of hearing to your loved one this holiday.