Help your loved ones be ‘heard’ over the holidays

While many of us look forward to the hustle and bustle of holiday parties, family dinners and other social events, the holidays can be a stressful time for people with hearing loss.

Even with the help of hearing aids, loved ones with hearing loss may find it difficult to engage in meaningful conversations while in noisy environments. This can lead to tension and feelings of loneliness and/or isolation, even when surrounded by loved ones.

“As a hearing instrument practitioner, I’m familiar and comfortable working with people who have a reduced range of hearing. Knowing if you really have hearing loss that needs to be treated can be hard, especially when your ability to hear seems to come and go,” says Hanan Merrill, owner of Nanaimo Hearing Clinic.

“When conversing with patients in my office they’ll often say,I hear you just fine!’ not realizing there are two significant reasons why they can hear me, yet struggle outside of the office. First, my office is quiet, unlike most ‘real world’ situations, and second, I know how to converse with those struggling with hearing loss.”

Merrill suggests friends and family members who plan on spending time with those experiencing hearing loss, whether or not they have a hearing aid, consider BEING a hearing aid for their loved ones this holiday season. “It might just be the best gift to give this holiday season to those struggling to hear, relax and connect.”

  1. Be aware: If a loved-one seems uncharacteristically quiet or withdrawn at a social event, it may be related to their hearing. Try to bring them back into the conversation or seek them out for some one-on-one conversation in a quieter area.
  2. Turn down the volume: Background music, electronics and/or the TV can make it hard to hear conversation — turn it down or better yet turn it off while people are chatting.
  3. Turn on the lights: Make it easier for those with hearing loss to see facial expressions and the mouths of those speaking. Before you start speaking, get the person’s attention so they can see your face. At the dinner table, consider seating a loved one with hearing loss at the head of the table where it’s easier for them to see everyone’s faces.
  4. Speak clearly and rephrase if needed: Speak slowly, clearly and project your voice without shouting. Try not to interrupt, as that can make it harder to follow a conversation. If someone asks you to repeat a sentence, try rephrasing as well to offer more information.
  5. Be an advocate: Stick close to a loved-one with hearing loss, or seat them next to someone who will be a patient advocate. Certain people are better at being aware of others’ needs and repeating things as necessary.
  6. Be patient: Remember that kindness and patience cost us nothing but can mean everything to someone else.

If you notice a loved one with or without hearing aids who seems to be struggling this holiday season, consider gently inquiring if they’ve had a hearing or hearing aid checkup recently. If they haven’t, consider if they need help booking or getting to an appointment and making the time to help.

For more hearing tips, book an appointment with Nanaimo Hearing Clinic by calling 250-585-4100 or visit Find Nanaimo Hearing Clinic at 501-5800 Turner Rd. in Cactus Club Plaza, Nanaimo.

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