With the holidays fast approaching many people may not have the same excitement that typically comes along with the winter months. In years past, large gatherings and traveling to visit family members was something we looked forward to. This year, things may look quieter. Even if things are different, it is still important to stay connected with friends and family. Here are some ways to stay connected and to hear well during the holidays.
Connect Via Zoom or Facetime
Schedule video chats so you can see people via zoom or facetime. Regular check ins can help us feel more connected. When you are on a phone or video chat be sure to reduce any background noise, and turn off the television or radio. Good lighting is also key to allow others to see your face and be able to read your lips if they are having trouble understanding you. If you have hearing aids wear them. Many hearing aids have Bluetooth capability and can be configured to have you stream the sound directly to your hearing aids. Check with your Audiologist for help setting this up. Even if you don’t have hearing aids using headphones may make it easier to hear.
Send a letter, a card, or a care package. Taking the extra time out of your day to do something thoughtful will spread joy during this difficult year. It will help decrease the feeling of isolation that is so prevalent for some people right now. Did you know that on Etsy.com some small online business will put together and send thoughtful care packages YOU put together? Just search ‘care package’ or ‘quarantine care package’ on etsy.com.
If you are visiting with loved ones in person remember to use your good communication strategies. It is important to be able to see the speakers face with the light on their face so you can speech read. Try to reduce background noise. Many gatherings have music playing in the background but for people living with hearing loss, it can make it very difficult to hear. If you do have trouble understanding something, give the speaker clues as to what you did hear. You can say something like, “I think you said something about eating dessert, is that correct?” The speaker can also help the listener by rephrasing the sentence if the listener is not hearing well. They can change a sentence from “I really like all of your decorations” to “Those lights that you hung in the living room look very nice.” Speakers should also remember to slow down their speech with natural phrasing.
Having a hard time understanding someone with a mask on? Another tip is to use a smart phone app like Ava. Ava will take spoken language and translate it into text so that you can read what is being said. You can adjust the size of the text to make it easy to read.
Get your hearing aids tuned up for the holidays with a routine cleaning and check-up. If you have a family member struggling with hearing loss encourage them to have an evaluation. Often people like to do our free two-week trial with hearing aids just before the holidays to be sure they are hearing at their best. Staying connected to others is important and hearing is a big part of that!