The holidays are coming sooner rather than later as the end of the year approaches. While the food prepping, gift buying, and travelling are some of the highlights, spending time with friends and family can become difficult if you're someone dealing with hearing loss. 

In one Dutch study, each decibel of hearing loss was linked to a 7 percent increase in loneliness among adults under age 70. Holidays can be some of the loneliest times of the year for those managing hearing loss. It's hard to participate in conversation and activities if you can't hear what's being said. In this blog we'll focus on a few ways to handle the holidays with hearing loss so you can still enjoy every special moment and feel as part of the group as everyone else.

1. Ask for what you need

It may be hard to ask for help or accomodation, but more often than not, people are happy to oblige. It may be easier to pretend you heard what was said and laugh along with everyone else even if you did not hear the joke. But being honest about not being able to hear will make your time at holiday events and gatherings easier and more enjoyable.

Use visual cues - like cupping your hand to you ear - to let the person talking know they need to speak louder. Or simply let them know you can't hear. They may be happy to turn down the music or TV and speak louder so you can be part of the group. 

You can also let the host know in advance that hearing is an issue for you. Maybe there's a portion of the gathering where the music can be turned off or down. Request to be seated at the center of a table rather than on the fringe so it's easier to hear.

2. Take breaks

During holiday events you may have to work extra hard to concentrate on what is being said. This can lead to mental fatigue and may make the gathering less enjoyable. Take a break!

Move to a quieter room for a moment, or take a few minutes in the bathroom to relax and let your mind rest. Maybe ask someone to get some air outside one-on-one for a moment or two. 

A break will help you recharge and give you the energy needed for another round of socializing so you can enjoy every moment of the party. 

3. Choose your seat wisely

Your seat choice can make all the difference, especially when it comes to background noise. Even the best hearing aids can't completely filter out background sounds. Try facing the wall, with your back toward the sound. And, of course, try to choose a table far from the DJ, speakers or other sources of background noise, like the TV or a noisy kitchen.

If you have multiple rooms to choose from, pick the quietest one and ask your friends to join you. Good lighting will allow you to better lip read and see facial expressions. Sit next to people you'd like to converse with the most so it's easier to hear them rather than trying to speak across the table or room.

4. Use your listening devices

If you wear hearing aids, make sure they are fully charged and ready to go before the event. Keep spare batteries on hand as well. 

If you have an assistive listening device, or ALD, make sure to bring it along with you. Westone offers a variety of ALDs that make conversation in noisy areas easier, like the PocketTalker 2.0. This ALD works by amplifying the sounds and voices around you. Simply plug the included earphone or headphone into the headphone jack. Position the internal microphone near the preferred sound and adjust the volume and tone control until the sounds you want to hear are clear.

Many smartphones also have apps that amplify sounds once connected to your hearing aids or earbuds. Try Live Listen, Headset Remote, or Chatable.

We understand how challenging the holidays can be with hearing loss. We hope these tips are helpful so you can enjoy every moment of this holiday season.