Contributed by Mandy Mroz, AuD, President, Healthy Hearing
For most people here in the U.S., the holiday season kicks off at the end of November. The days are shorter, there’s a crispness to the air and whole neighborhoods compete to shine brightly after dark. Whatever you celebrate — Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa or the New Year — this time of the year is filled with opportunities to eat rich foods, take part in traditions and gather with family and friends.
What sounds are you missing?
The holidays are also a time when people with untreated hearing loss miss out on a lot of the most wonderful seasonal sounds, including:
- The joyful laughter and excitement of the kids as they open their holiday gifts.
- The excited announcers of televised sporting events, like the college football playoff games.
- The lyrical melody of favorite seasonal music. There’s no better time to play Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan’s version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” or Dean Martin’s “Let it Snow.”
- Sharing memories of past holidays with other family members.
- Holiday banter over the dinner table.
- Updates from loved ones who only gather for these special annual events.
If you’ve been considering getting a hearing test to see if you may need hearing aids, there is still time to do it before the holidays are in full swing. It takes a bit of time and a few visits to your hearing care professional but you will soon have your new hearing aids working to their fullest potential. You’ll be thankful you didn’t go one more holiday season without hearing well, and you’ll be delighted by the holiday sounds you forgot you were missing.
Tips for better holiday listening
Whether you wear hearing aids or not, there are many things you can do to ease communication during gatherings with your family and friends. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your hearing ability this holiday season:
- Choose the best seat at the dinner table. If you have better hearing in one ear, make sure to position yourself so you can hear with that ear.
- Make sure the TV and music are off — it will be difficult enough for you to hear over several conversations. Sit by someone you can lipread, or by someone who understands your hearing loss and doesn’t mind filling you in if you miss a detail or punchline.
- If there’s someone you really want to pull into a conversation, ask him or her to step into a more private space with good lighting so you can chat and hear more easily.
- Give yourself a hearing break! Head to a quiet spot, like a bedroom or the bathroom, and let your ears enjoy a few minutes of quiet time.
If you already wear hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices, be sure to stock up on batteries and visit your hearing care provider for a check and cleaning before the holidays so you’re prepared. If you own hearing aids but they live in a drawer most of the time, the holidays are a great time to pull them out and put them on — wouldn’t you like to hear those joyful “thank-yous” that get shouted across the room?