With the start of Thanksgiving, the holiday season is officially upon us. Holidays are filled with family, friends, food, and fun—and shouldn’t be a source of stress. However, for those who live with hearing loss, holidays can be a worrying affair. Thanksgiving dinner is often an extra-loud meal, and you want to make sure you’re hearing everything you can, so check out the following tips and tricks to ensure that you don’t miss anything!
Double Hearing Aids Means Double the Power
Obviously, it is important to wear your hearing aids at the table so you can hear everything (and make sure they are turned on!). If you have more than one hearing aid, it is advisable to wear both to maximize your family gossip. Wearing two hearing aids makes a huge difference in speech understanding, which is imperative when you’re trying to talk to your niece about where she wants to go to college, or if your grandson is asking you to please pass the sweet potatoes!
Hearing Loss Takes the Mic
Many (although not all) hearing aid models have a directional microphone option. If your hearing aids do have this feature, be sure to utilize it at the dinner table. You can flip your hearing aids from an omnidirectional setting, which grabs sound from all directions, to the directional setting that mainly picks up sound coming from in front of you. Position yourself at the head of the dinner table and flip that directional microphone setting on—it can really help in reducing unwanted noise and let you focus on the chatter around you. If you’re worried about missing something behind you or you’ll be moving around a lot (perhaps in the kitchen), you can switch on the directional microphone for just one hearing aid. That way, your other hearing aid can be tuned in to sounds from all directions.
Communication Skills for Hearing Loss
A very important tool for communicating when you have hearing loss is simply asking people to repeat themselves. If you’re sitting at Thanksgiving dinner and having trouble hearing your son halfway down the table, don’t be nervous about asking him to please repeat what he said. Even with hearing aids, people with hearing loss might be missing more than those without hearing loss, so it is important that you are your own advocate. If you’re hosting or attending a party with a lot of smaller children, it could be beneficial to seat the children at their own kid’s table in another room, so you can more easily hear the adults.
If you’re very anxious about your communication skills, you might find listening/auditory training to be helpful. There are computer programs that you can use to practice lip-reading and auditory skills on your own time and in your own home. There are also classes nationwide that help people with hearing loss practice these skills, but many prefer the comfort and privacy of a computer program.
Many people with hearing loss benefit from FM transmitters and receivers, a type of listening technology that allows users to focus sound into their hearing aids. The transmitter can be placed in front of whoever you’re speaking with, and it will transmit sound into the receiver at a significantly louder decibel. Most FM receivers work with a telecoil, so you can transmit sound directly into your hearing aids.
Thanksgiving should be a fun, relaxed affair (as long as no one burns the turkey). These skills and technologies can make Thanksgiving much easier and less anxiety-inducing for people with hearing loss. Remember to focus on the food, and NOT worrying about your hearing aids!
By: Elena McPhillips