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Published on November 10th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

Tips to Stay Connected this Holiday Season.

The holidays are stressful enough, but for people with hearing loss, festive gatherings often mean struggling to connect with friends and family through tables of competing conversations and clattering dishes.

More than half of Canadians over 65 are affected by hearing loss and most family gatherings this year will include at least one person who has difficulties hearing. But with CAA we’re here to help make sure everyone is happy during your festivities.

On December 6, we’re celebrating CAA Happy Holiday Hearing Day at Connect Hearing clinics with tons of gifts. As a CAA Member, you’ll get a complimentary Hearing Health Check, refreshments and more. Plus save up to 45% on everyday listening products. Find a Connect Hearing location near you.

Whether you have hearing loss or are hosting someone who does, there are a number of things you can do to help everyone effectively communicate during festivities. These tips will help you and your loved ones stay connected during your holiday gatherings.

If you have hearing loss…

  • Wear your hearing aids, if you have them! It should go without saying, but this step is often forgotten. Also considering paying your hearing specialist a visit for a hearing aid tune-up before heading out for the holidays and be sure to bring extra batteries to all holiday events.
  • Don’t be shy about your needs. Let your loved ones know that you want to make sure you’re a part of conversations. Ask them to keep background noise such as music or television to a minimum and speak clearly.
  • Team up! Partner with a friend or relative ahead of time who can help keep you in the loop by filling you in on any bits of conversation you may miss.
  • Stay rested. It’s a lot of work trying to keep up with conversations when you have hearing loss. Be sure to get rest the day before and take a few minutes away from the crowd to refresh as needed to avoid hearing fatigue.
  • Go one-on-one.  Find chances to connect with individuals in a quiet room. Take the grandkids aside for some playtime or help the cook out in the kitchen.
  • Be strategic with your seating. Try to sit against a wall, in a position where you will be able to see as many people as possible. If you have a “good ear” position yourself to maximize its use. Seat those with quiet or high-pitched voices (such as children) closest to you.
  • Clear your view. Visual cues are critical for keeping up with the conversation, so make sure you can see everyone at the dinner table. Keep the room well-lit and remove any excessive centerpieces.
  • Go easy on yourself! Group settings are a challenging hearing situation. Even people with no hearing loss may have trouble following every conversation. Have your best holiday by having realistic expectations and celebrating the positives.

If you’re hosting a holiday party with someone who is hearing impaired…

Get their attention and Speak Clearly

  • Before you start speaking, say the person’s name or touch their arm so they can “tune in” to what you’re saying.
  • Turn your head towards them and speak clearly. Shouting or over-emphasizing your words can actually make them harder to understand. Make lip-reading easier by refraining from chewing while talking.
  • The sound of your voice may seem muffled if you turn away while speaking.

Be Inclusive

  • Try to have conversations that include the entire group at the table – multiple conversations that create background chatter can make it more difficult to hear.
  • Be aware of whether your loved one is engaged. If they seem withdrawn, they may be facing challenges with the current situation in some way. Can you improve the situation for them?
  • Make a quiet area available where your loved one can have a one-on-one chat with someone, or just take a break from the sounds of a boisterous gathering.

Reduce excess noise

  • Turn off background noise like TV and music. Ask the person with hearing loss if the music interferes with their ability to hear conversations. If so, turn the volume down to a level that is comfortable.
  • Include a tablecloth or placemats in your holiday table setting to reduce the background noise of clattering dishes.
    Seat the person with their back to an open space, so there is less noise reflection.

Make sure to join us on December 6, 2016 at any Connect Hearing location and celebrate CAA Happy Holiday Hearing Day. Find a Connect Hearing location near you.

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