Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
The holiday season is so short, sometimes it seems to fly by faster than Santa’s sleigh. Since this time of year is traditionally spent with friends and loved ones, why miss a minute of the sounds you love most? When you take full advantage of your hearing aid capabilities, you can enjoy the festivities to their fullest.
Get a hearing aid check-up before festivities
As a hearing aid user, you likely schedule regular check-ups with your hearing healthcare professional. That’s especially important this time of year to make sure your hearing devices are clean and working properly. At your appointment be sure to ask about:
- Hearing aid features: Between the holiday music, laughter and clatter of dishes, participating in the conversation can be challenging. Can your hearing aids minimize background noise so you can focus on what the person in front of you is saying? If so, learn how to adjust the settings to maximize this feature — and be sure you know how to maximize other holiday listening environments, too. Does your manufacturer have a new smartphone app that can help you adjust settings on the fly? That’s another thing to find out!
- The proper accessories: Whether you’re an avid skier or just a seasonal sledder, you’ll want to have the right gear to protect your hearing aids from wind and moisture. Other accessories, such as Bluetooth streaming devices and assistive listening devices, can maximize your benefits. If your hearing center doesn’t sell what you need, ask the staff if they know where you can find it.
Train your brain if you don’t wear hearing aids often
You can also prepare for holiday fun by wearing your hearing aids daily around the house. Since hearing is a brain function, the more you wear your hearing devices, the more practice your brain has translating the signals it’s receiving from the hair cells in the inner ear. This is especially important if you’ve just begun wearing hearing devices after a long period of untreated hearing loss, as there may be some sounds your brain has forgotten how to translate.
Here are some other tips for getting ready before the holidays:
- Stock up on batteries. If your hearing aids use disposable batteries, make sure you have an ample supply of fresh batteries within reach so you don’t have to make an emergency run to the drugstore. If rechargeable, don’t forget to pack your charger for overnight trips.
- Child-proof and pet-proof your home. If kids or pets will be visiting, designate a safe place to store your hearing aids and their accessories, especially button batteries, which are very dangerous if swallowed.
At holiday parties
If your hearing loss prevents you from hearing well when you’re in a noisy situation, be prepared when you attend the office party or a friend’s holiday party.
- Control your environment. Let your hostess know you have hearing loss and ask to be seated the furthest away from the television or kitchen so you can minimize background noise. More on how to make your holiday dinner hearing loss friendly.
- Take advantage of off-peak hours. If your plans call for dining at a restaurant or two this month, consider eating earlier to avoid peak dining hours between 6 and 8 p.m. Or plan to dine on a weeknight, when restaurants are much less busy and have less background noise.
- Use the buddy system. Attend festivities with someone you trust who knows about your hearing loss. They can help you navigate noisy situations and boisterous conversations.
During holiday performances
Whether the production is Broadway quality or performed by your favorite little Scrooge, be prepared to hear your best.
- Look for looping. Check the venue’s website to see if they have a telecoil-friendly loop system or other assistive listening device options. If they do, note how to request the service and arrive in plenty of time to acquire one as some facilities have a limited supply.
- Reserve seating. If the production is being presented in a local gymnasium or another facility without assistive listening services, call well in advance to ask if you can reserve seating near the front of the audience.
After the holidays
Take a moment to evaluate. Did your hearing devices meet your expectations? If not, make a list of what needs adjusting so you can discuss it at your next regularly scheduled appointment. Ask your hearing healthcare professional to make a note of these adjustments in your file so you’ll be even more prepared to greet the next holiday season.
If you’re not hearing as well as you used to, make an appointment with a hearing specialist near you to find out why. Let healthy hearing be the gift you give yourself this holiday season!