Christmas is a time for family and friends to come and spend some quality time together, but the festive period can be a very challenging time for someone suffering from some form of hearing loss.
The overplayed Christmas music, chat with your boss at the office party, the punchline to the bad cracker joke and the chatter at Christmas lunch can all be a serious struggle. So the team at Age UK Hearing Aids have created these top tips to manage hearing loss at Christmas.
Keep your hearing aids at their best
There is a high chance that you are going to meet or speak to someone who doesn’t know that you have a hearing loss impairment, so the first thing to do is to ensure that your hearing aids are working properly.
It is important that you check the wax filters/guards daily, changing them if wax is visible. You should ensure that you have spare batteries with you, it doesn’t matter if you’re just going to dinner or if you’re going to stay at the in-laws, you do not want your hearing aids to cut out unexpectedly.
The easiest way to ensure that you have a great time at any occasion is to tell the guest about your hearing problem ahead of the event. It needn’t be more than a quiet word with the colleague arranging the staff party, or a call or email to the host of a gathering.
Letting the host know will give them time to make arrangements to suit you. These won’t be massive changes that make you stand out, it can be as subtle as sitting you in the right position of the table.
Managing with hearing loss at dinner parties and events
Don’t be put off by big get-togethers, there are a few little tricks you can do to help you enjoy the company.
1 – Where to sit
Sit on your good side when at a table, or similarly, stand on your good side. You shouldn’t have to worry about asking if you can move just to hear someone clearly, if anything, it will just ensure a better conversation.
2 – The dancefloor
There will be the inevitable makeshift dancefloor at any Christmas party, so position yourself in a quieter room, or quieter part of the room. The music won’t only be uncomfortable for you, but will restrict any chance of conversation.
3 – Careful with your drinking
Be careful with your drink, too much alcohol can obstruct your hearing loss. Christmas is a time to indulge and be merry, and you may need that little bit of Dutch courage, but remember that the more you drink the harder it becomes to hear.
Lipreading is a skill that many of us have picked up over the years without even noticing. Time spent in busy pubs, clubs, the workplace or anywhere with background noise have helped develop your skills.
Following the movements of someone’s lips, tongue, jaw and facial expressions help to tell us what was said. Monitoring the speaker’s facial movements, gestures and body language will give you clues as to what is being said.
For a sufferer of hearing loss who needs to master lipreading, it can be a very timely practise, but is very beneficial once mastered.
Couple lip reading with a hearing aid and you can dramatically improve your chances of picking up on someone’s conversation. It fills the gaps in noisy situations, as well as giving you more confidence at work, school and social situations, whilst also giving you a sense of independence.
One issue with lipreading is if someone speaks quickly. If you find yourself in this situation just politely ask them if they can repeat themselves. The vast majority of the time, when you ask someone to repeat what they just said, they subconsciously slow down anyway.
Different ways to communicate
Here is a chance to put your lipreading skills to the test; use Skype or a video calling service to contact loved ones and friends, rather than using the phone.
Christmas is a time for people to be together, but there is always someone that can’t make it to the catch-up drinks or for dinner.
Traditionally, you may wish to just make a phone call to someone, but this obviously presents a number of challenges. Using a service like Skype means you can see the loved one as well as hear them. Even if you are struggling to pick up what they are saying you can try your hand at lipreading.
Extra tips and ideas to deal with hearing loss
- Why not ask if you can have subtitles on the TV? It really isn’t an inconvenience for other viewers, and allows everyone to enjoy the classic Christmas films.
- When going out to the cinema or theatre, why not pick a venue that offers films for those with hearing loss problems? Stagetext is offered in venues across the country.
- If you are going out for dinner, either sit yourself with your back to the wall. It will ensure that there isn’t anyone passing or talking behind you, which can be a distraction.
This blog was prepared by UK Hearing Care. To book a free hearing test or for more information, please call0800 204 4594.