The holiday season brings a certain warmth to the soul. From those cozy family gatherings to hearing your favorite songs, your senses play a big role in making this season the best and most heartwarming of all.
Whether its Christmas carols, children laughing, the tearing of the paper, crackling of the fire or your family's dinner time chatter, your favorite sounds of the season help make your connection to the holidays, and all that this season brings, so special.
But what if the sounds of your season slowly become quieter? If you have hearing loss, leaning in further to hear a conversation could put a damper on the holiday delight. In fact, the ability to communicate is a key component to being able to participate and enjoy this special season.
For individuals who have difficulty with their hearing, we have some tips that may help improve communication when it becomes more challenging.
1. Ask friends and family to get your attention before they start speaking.
Part of listening is concentration. If you are not prepared to listen, you may miss the first part of what is being said.
2. Be in close proximity to the person to whom you are communicating.
It is best to be within three to six feet when having a conversation.
3. Be sure to face the person with whom you are speaking.
We all benefit from visual cues such as gestures and facial expressions. In addition, when you are facing the person with whom you are speaking, you have more direct access to the sound and therefore receive a better quality of sound.
4. Ask friends and family to speak slowly.
Rapid speech can be difficult to follow, especially in challenging listening environments. Having family and friends speak slowly may make it easier for you to understand what is being said but they should not over exaggerate the words.
5. Decrease extra background noises.
Background noise makes listens more difficult. Before having a conversation with someone, turn off any sources of noise such as the television, radio, or running water.
6. In a restaurant, request a booth or a table that is off to the side.
Try not to be seated near an open kitchen or serving station.
7. Avoid distractions to the conversation.
During conversations, be aware of distractions that you or others may be bringing to the conversation such as covering your mouth when speaking.
8. If you don't understand what someone has said, ask for clarification.
Ask the speaker to repeat or rephrase what has been said. Another option is repeating what you heard so you can be sure you have the correct details. This is a better option than guessing what was said and being incorrect.
9. Get plenty of rest.
Hearing is hard work, especially if you have a hearing loss. The more rested you are, the easier it will be to concentrate on what is being said.
During a conversation, you don't need to understand every word. If you can understand 50 percent of what is said you can usually follow the conversation.
11. Be an advocate for yourself.
Let others know what your communication needs are.
12. Model good communication skills.
Communication takes at least two people working together, so model good behavior. For example, do not call out a question from another room because if you do, you are giving permission for the other person to answer you back the same way.
13. If you have hearing aids, use them.
They may not fix all of your hearing challenges, but they will make listening easier.
14. Keep eyes in view.
A good rule of thumb is to always be able to see the eyes of the person with whom you are speaking for the best communication.
These communication strategies will go a long way in boosting your holiday connectedness and spirit as your conversations with friends and family become easier. Even people with normal hearing benefit from using these strategies during the holidays and beyond.