Enjoying Christmas & New Year's Eve with Hearing Loss
Dec 20, 2017
In a recent survey by the charity Action on Hearing Loss
1700 people were recently asked what they wouldn’t miss the most at Christmas if they were to develop hearing loss, and the results are unsurprising. Many people said they would miss Christmas carols and the sounds of classic Christmas films, but the sounds they would miss the most are the sounds of conversations with family and friends.
After all, Christmas is the season of goodwill and merriment. And all should be allowed to partake equally. That is why we’ve compiled these top tips for those with hearing loss to make the most of their time with loved ones this holiday season.
Upgrade, use and prepare your hearing gear
First you should check that your hearing aid is right for you. Visit a local hearing clinic before the festive season so you can have a comprehensive checkup. They will be able to provide the best solutions for the incoming busy social period. They can optimize your current hearing aids to suit noisy environments like parties or can recommend the models that handle these situations best.
Once you have your equipment sorted, make sure you wear your hearing aids often. This is to allow your brain to adjust to different sounds. Wearing them only when you are faced with noisy situations tends to overwhelm the brain. You need to train your brain to deal with these situations. As you use them, your brain will start to distinguish between important and non-important sounds. It adapts to that environment and makes it easier for you to follow the conversation that is most important to you. Start wearing your hearing aids every day in the weeks leading up to the big day.
Before your event, use a dehumidifier to get rid of any lingering moisture so that your device is working perfectly the next day. Replace your batteries with new ones, as you know they will be working overtime during the festivities!
Optimise your environment
Having the party of Christmas dinner in your own home, you stand the best chance of organizing the space in a way that most benefits the hard-of-hearing.
Try creating a seating plan where you are far from the speaker or television noises. They are a significant source of noise and can contribute to the Lombard effect – the idea that people tend to talk louder when in a loud room, which increases the level of noise in a room to a higher level. Ideally however, the TV should be off. There’s no better impediment to conversation than the sound and glare of a television or mobile device.
Furthermore, arrange furniture so that guests can see each other’s faces. This helps immensely with lip-reading, which can help with understanding and maintaining conversation. If you can, try and sit with your back to the wall. This will protect you from erroneous noises and help you focus on talking to the person next to you. You might also use a tablecloth to reduce the sound of cutlery clinking during the meal.
Finally, try and keep alcohol consumption moderate, as it has been proven that excessive indulgence can affect your ability to hear in the short term.
Talk to the people next to you
You have the best chance of understanding and connecting with those who are closest to you physically. If you do engage with a guest at a party one-on-one, let them know which side of the ear you prefer to hear on. Being honest about your hearing loss might also be the best way to start a conversation and will make you feel less isolated.
Once you have maxed out the stories with one guest, it never hurts to mix it up by moving to another seat later on. The best time to do this is just after everyone has finished their food and is leaving the table in dribs and drabs. This will free up space for you to change seats and start afresh with another person.
Protect your ears before the new year celebrations
Are you heading outside to watch the fireworks this year? Heed this advice to protect your hearing.
Turn your hearing aids off and replace them with hearing protection such as foam earplugs or earmuffs. The latter will also help fight against those biting December winds! Make sure you stay a healthy distance from the fireworks themselves as hearing protection will not protect you completely. About 18 metres should suffice.
Your social occasions need not be hampered by hearing problems. Get prepared by visiting us at House of Hearing, and you’ll be the life and soul of the party this holiday season!