The holidays are here, which means it's a time to share and connect with family and friends. For people with hearing loss, communicating in large groups can be challenging at times. Here are some communication tips to make sure everyone feels comfortable and confident during family gatherings and social functions this holiday season.

Family at holiday tableThe Person with Hearing Loss Can:
 
  • Use hearing aids. Hearing aids will help you communicate better and make it easier for you to enjoy the company of your friends and family. Additionally, your hearing aids may come with sound isolation or noise cancellation features that will come in handy during large get-togethers.
  •  As best as possible, try to reduce the background noise. It will help everyone listen more clearly.  
  • Find a good seat. When it's time to take a seat at the dinner table, choose a spot that gives you the best view of everyone's faces. The more people you can see and make eye contact with, the better.  
  • Ask people to repeat themselves. There may be times when you can't understand what someone is saying. It's okay to ask them to repeat themselves.
  •  Stay close to a buddy. Go to holiday parties with someone you can trust and who can help you communicate better. They can fill you in on parts of the conversation you might miss.

Family Members and Friends Can:
 
  • Speak clearly. When speaking, project your voice and speak as clearly as possible. If the person with hearing loss still can't understand what you're saying, try rephrasing it instead of simply repeating it.  
  • Face the person with hearing loss. People with limited hearing often look for facial expressions, gestures and mouth movements to help interpret what's being said.  
  • Make the setting more accessible. Try to minimize background noise by keeping the volume low on the TV or radio or turning it off completely while dinner is being served.  
  • Make sure you have the person’s attention before beginning a conversation. Try saying the person’s name, touching their arm or using a gesture to get their attention.  
  • Talk into their “good ear.” Some people who have hearing loss have one ear that is stronger than the other. Look for cues as to which ear that is, ask them if appropriate, and situate yourself on that side of your listener.   
  • Be understanding. You may feel understandably frustrated when interacting with the hearing impaired, but keep in mind how it must be for them on a daily basis. Be patient. Communicating with hearing loss is a cooperative effort and requires understanding from both sides. 
Man having hearing testAs your calendar fills up with parties, events and get-togethers this season, keep these tips in mind to maintain better communication. If you or someone you know has hearing loss, you can still enjoy great conversation and make the holidays feel truly special.

If you suspect that you may have some degree of hearing loss, contact the Pennsylvania Ear Institute (PEI). Our expert audiologists will assess your hearing and make recommendations on how to address your hearing needs. For more information on PEI’s services or to make an appointment, call 215.780.3180.