Christmas is for spending time with loved ones and spreading good cheer. But for those with hearing loss who struggle to understand group conversations, large gatherings can be daunting and isolating. This sense of isolation is very common, especially around the festive season.
With one in six people in Australia now affected by hearing loss, you’re not alone.
As a rule of thumb, you should try to sit in the middle where you are most likely to hear everyone, keep the volume down on the radio or TV, tell those around you about your hearing loss and face whoever you are talking to directly. These will all help.
However, if you really want to make sure you get all the sights as well as the sounds of Christmas this year, we’ve put together 5 tips for the festive season to help you make memories that last.
1. Maximise your surrounds
If you have or suspect a hearing loss, you should try and sit in the middle, where you’re most likely to hear everyone. Should you arrive to find your family seated, don’t hesitate to ask if someone will make room or move for you. Your capacity to participate hangs in the balance and this request is not an inconvenience: tell those around you of your hearing loss and face individuals directly when you’re in a conversation. Ask your loved ones to ensure their face is visible to you when they’re speaking.
Loud music or audio can make it difficult to hold a conversation and the problem worsens as people raise their voices to be heard. Keep the volume low on the radio and TV, this background noise gets in the way of what you can hear.
2. Wear your hearing aids
Don’t fall into a trap of wearing your hearing device only when you think “you really need them”, we know they may take a little getting used to but the same can be said of almost everything in life.
When you first start wearing hearing aids, you’ll be able to hear lots of background noise. But once you start using them regularly, those sounds will gradually be moved into the background and easier to ignore as your brain adapts to all the new sounds you can hear. Your hearing device can now also be connected to your smartphone and TV wirelessly with little effort. You can get that Christmas jingle, festive movie or videos of loved ones beamed directly to your ears and enjoy them alongside everybody else in the room. Click here to view our range of hearing aids.
Just like wearing new glasses, it’s best to adjust your brain slowly, so get started wearing them now ahead of the holiday season.
3. Take care of your hearing aids
Not taking care of your hearing aids means you won’t get the best out of them. A little bit of maintenance will keep your aids and thus your hearing at its best.
Change the wax guard/filters regularly. You can also get drying kits for your aids – the heaters can remove moisture and condensation and the UV light will kill bacteria. This will mean your aids will last much longer and serve you better. If your device does get damp, or it’s very humid, consider a dri-device kit – basically a dehumidifying tub.
At the end of each day, open the battery doors of your devices, and let them breathe. Wipe them over with a soft, dry cloth and give them a brush with the special tool supplied with your devices.
4. Designate a ‘Quiet Area’
If you have a large family or group gathering over the festive season, consider improving room acoustics by nominating a ‘Quiet Area’ for people to go and chat without the disruption of background music, etc. make sure there’s no speaker system around and keep the furnishings soft (e.g. rubber-capped chair legs).
This also gives you an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with loved ones you may not have seen much in 2022.
5. Body language and lipreading
If you have a hearing loss:
Following the movements of someone’s lips, tongue, jaw and facial expressions help to tell us what was said. Couple lip reading with a hearing aid and you can dramatically improve your chances of picking up on someone’s conversation. If you find yourself in the situation of someone speaking too quickly, just politely ask them if they can repeat themselves.
If you’re communicating with a loved one experiencing a hearing loss:
- Don’t shout or over enunciate, instead speak naturally but very clearly
- Maintain eye contact
- Indicate directs or objects with your hands where applicable
It’s important to remember too that body language varies from culture to culture – with some cultures considering excess eye contact, the direction of your feet or pointing as signals of impoliteness or rudeness. These things may be considered in your body language when speaking with someone you don’t know well.
We hope you enjoy a wonderful Christmas with special family and friends!
If you or your loved one are experiencing a sudden or gradual loss in hearing, or a rapid decline in hearing ability, it’s important to have your hearing checked. While serious hearing loss is inevitable in some cases, early intervention can make a huge difference. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss can prevent further deterioration which, left untreated, may lead to serious impairment.