Boisterous gatherings of family and friends are hallmarks of the holiday season. These gatherings buoy our spirits for the coming winter months and allow us to connect and re-connect in a meaningful way. However, close to 50% of households will be hosting someone with a hearing loss this year, which means careful planning to ensure everyone can enjoy and participate in the conversations.
First, assume if your guest can’t see everyone, they probably can’t hear everyone. When it is time to set the table for dinner, find another place to put your beautiful centerpiece. Removing visual obstructions is the easiest solution that will have the greatest positive impact. We gather so much information by watching the faces of speakers and, when we don’t hear well, that information becomes far more important.
Draw the drapes. Yes, you will cut out a little sunlight, but in return you will be adding an element of sound dampening and absorption and you will be removing glare.
Assign seating to make sure the person with the hearing loss is sitting at the end of the table and nearest their favorite conversational partners. This will give them full view of everyone, but won’t force them to strain to hear the people they most want to visit with. Never be bashful about this. The person with a hearing loss KNOWS they have a hearing loss and will be grateful and touched that you are being so considerate.
Kitchens are a favorite place to gather and, inevitably, the television is entertaining part of the crowd. This clash of sound can make it awfully hard to hear. If possible, create a quiet area away from the epicenter where folks can gather and visit in peace without feeling left out or isolated.
Finally, most audiologist’s offices (including Vibrant Hearing) will be closed from Thanksgiving until the following Monday. If you or someone you love wears hearing aids, take advantage of your audiologist’s walk-in hours before Thursday and have the aids cleaned and checked before the long weekend.
Have a peaceful and restorative Thanksgiving and Stay Vibrant!