It’s the time of year everyone enjoys- The holiday season. The holidays are a time of togetherness, a time to share in beloved family holiday traditions that have been around for generations.
Turkey and stuffing aside, one of the biggest Thanksgiving traditions for my family was always the Thanksgiving Day football game. While the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys took on their opponents, my grandma and I would be putting the finishing touches on our holiday meal. When it was finished, we would call for the rest of the family to tear themselves away from the game to come share in our traditional feast. Most of my cousins and siblings would come running, but I always noticed that grandma would have to step out of the kitchen and shout at my grandpa a second time before he would hear her.
Repeating things for grandpa more than once was commonplace and often frustrating for my grandmother. When my siblings and I were younger, we used to laugh at their loving give and take-Grandma would get riled up and grandpa would just laugh it off. It wasn’t until later in life I realized the real irritation my grandma felt went past just the current moment and that the communication in their marriage was actually impacted by my grandfather’s hearing loss. Conversations became more limited as grandpa had to ask grandma to repeat herself more and more.
It’s almost impossible to hide hearing loss when you’re surrounded by loved ones during the holidays. Common signs of hearing loss include not being able to hear well in a crowded room, having trouble hearing children and women, and asking family and friends to repeat what they’re saying. These symptoms became more pronounced in my grandpa during the holidays: smiling and nodding during the holiday dinner was a telltale sign that he was not able to follow the conversations.
If you notice one of your loved ones withdrawing from conversation because of their hearing, take a moment to bring them back into the conversation. Here are a few communication skills you can use to help them feel more included during the holidays:
– Be sure the person is paying attention before you speak.
– Speak face-to-face, never from a different room or from behind.
– While speaking, avoid activities like smoking or chewing that make lip reading difficult.
– Speak at a natural pace and volume level.
– Try to reduce background noise. Even people who wear hearing aids may have difficulty hearing in noisy situations.
Often, the first step to bringing your loved one back into the conversation is by having a heartfelt family discussion about their health concerns. We recommend that everyone over the age of 55 have an annual hearing screening. Halftime during the Cowboys game may not be the best time to bring it up but after the holidays, let your loved one know you’re concerned and would like to help. We are always here to help, please contact us with any questions or schedule a free hearing screening appointment today. We look forward to helping make your holiday season free from the struggles of hearing loss.