The sounds of the holidays: joyous music and lively conversation, as family and friends get together are a cherished part of every holiday season. Unfortunately, if a loved one has trouble hearing, the noise of the occasion may cause the holidays to lose some of their luster.

A person with hearing loss symptoms may have difficulty hearing the higher pitched tones which may make hearing at a distance or hearing when background noise is present particularly challenging. Children’s and women‘s voices may be more difficult to hear than some men’s voices; but everyone may be generally perceived as if they are mumbling – even though they may actually speak clearly. Missing out on a grandchild’s recitation of a wish list, or being unable to contribute to a family conversation about holiday memories, can be frustrating for both the person suffering from hearing loss, as well as family members who may not be aware of the hearing problem or know how they can best help their loved one suffering from hearing loss.

There are ways to help a loved one with hearing problems enjoy the holiday season. It takes careful observation, awareness and a healthy dose of patience. These communication skills are useful year round, but may be even more important when families and friends gather to celebrate. Some gentle ways to help a person who is hearing impaired are to:

– Be sure to get the person’s attention before you speak. You can do this by calling their name and waiting for a response, or by gently touching their shoulder.

– Speak face-to-face, never from a different room, or from behind.

– Dimly lit situations make it difficult to see facial expressions. Try to have conversations in areas with good lighting.

– While speaking, avoid activities like smoking or chewing that make lip reading difficult.

– Try to speak at a pace that is slightly slower than normal, use clear diction, and a normal volume level. Shouting often distorts the sound quality of your voice and older individuals can follow speech better if it is not too fast.

– Try to reduce background noise wherever possible. Even people who wear hearing aids may have difficulty hearing in noisy situations.
The holidays often provide the perfect opportunity for a heartfelt family discussion about health concerns. Recognizing the effects and problems associated with hearing loss can sometimes help rule out a number of medical diagnoses and pinpoint the primary problem.

With the support of family, a person with hearing problems may be more readily able to seek treatment for hearing loss and, if necessary, hearing aids. What a great gift to give a loved one (or yourself) this holiday season!

Avoid another frustrating Holiday season. If you or a loved one could benefit from treatment or counseling for hearing loss, simply submit your information in the Contact Us form. We will be in touch to answer all your questions or schedule a free appointment. We look forward to helping make your season free from struggles with hearing loss and full of joy.

Dr. Leisa Lyles-DeLeon

Audiology Board Certified

Ascent Audiology & Hearing

Washington, DC