The holidays can be a tricky season—and not just because you’re trying to check off everything on your gift list, plan for travelling or hosting relatives, and stay warm despite dropping temperatures.
For people with hearing loss, holiday celebrations such as Thanksgiving are extra challenging because they are not generally an ideal hearing environment. Often the festivities feature a lot of people, in a small area, with tons of other environmental stimuli that make hearing difficult.
Here are eight tips to take the stress out of your holiday celebrations and ensure you have an unforgettable holiday with the people who matter most:
- Choose a seat carefully. Whether your holiday dinners have place cards and assigned seats or it’s a first-come-first-served situation, you have options. Arrive early and scope out the seating arrangements, then pick a spot where your best hearing side is facing the majority of the other participants. If your spot isn’t working and you need to switch with someone, just ask! They’ll more than likely be willing to trade if you explain that it would help you to hear the conversations taking place.
- Place your Mini Mic 2 or Mini Mic 2+ at the center of the table. This will help to amplify everyone’s voices and allow you to focus on what everyone is saying. You can also clip it to an individual person’s shirt, if you’re having a hard time understanding a specific person. By streaming the audio directly from the person to your sound processor, you eliminate the distance and background noise that can make it so difficult to understand what someone is saying. (For a guide to the differences between the Mini Mic 2 and Mini Mic 2+, click here.)
- Move away from the group for one-on-one conversations. If you’re talking with one or two people before/after dinner, consider asking them to move to a quieter area to speak. Either step into a nearby room or walk out into the backyard. Not only will this eliminate the noise from every other conversation, but it will also remove background noises such as the television and music.
- Adjust your programming. Use your remote assistant or remote control to discreetly change your processor’s volume or program. Or, if you have the Nucleus® 7 or Baha® 5 processor, you can adjust your controls right from your iPhone® with the Smart App. It’s never been easier to raise or lower the volume, and that can mean a better hearing experience.
- Pack extra batteries. The only thing worse than running out of mashed potatoes is running out of batteries when your processor needs them the most. Avoid unnecessary trips to the store by making sure to pack plenty of batteries, plus some extras in case you encounter unforeseen problems.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Most people will be more than happy to accommodate small requests that help you to hear them. For example, you could ask a soft-spoken family member, “Please make sure you face me when you are speaking.” Or, if the sounds from the television or background music are proving to be distracting, ask the host if they can mute them so you can focus on conversation. Simple steps like these can make a huge difference.
- Use the TV Streamer to tune into the big game. If everyone in the house is crowded around the television, it may be difficult to find a comfortable spot that allows you to hear the commentators and scores. The good news is, the TV Streamer makes it easy to stream audio wirelessly from the TV to your processor. Plus it’s quick and easy to set up, so you can have it ready to go before the game starts. You can choose to mix the sound of the TV with the sounds of your environment, or completely tune out environmental sounds during the nail-biter overtime moments when you want to focus on the game.
- Take breaks. Large holiday gatherings can be exhausting for anyone, let alone someone with hearing loss. Don’t forget that it takes a lot of work for your brain to decipher all the added stimuli, and it’s a good thing to give yourself a chance to rest. Plus, it’s a vacation—so let yourself enjoy it! If you begin to feel tired, excuse yourself to take a walk or lay down in a quiet room. Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of peace and quiet to refresh yourself.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the perfect holiday, but by following these ten hearing tips, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Here are some additional resources to help you prepare for the holidays:
- For more information and tips on navigating social situations with a Cochlear Implant, click here.
- For a list of tips you can share with others on how to communicate with a child with hearing loss, click here.
- For advice on travelling with a Cochlear Implant during the holidays, click here.
- If you plan to fly during the holidays, it’s important to consider these travel tips. To download a patient identification card for airport security, click here.
Have a great Thanksgiving!