"The holiday season is meant to be a time of thanks, celebration and joy," said Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute.
"But for many people, it is a time of year when untreated hearing loss can cause them to feel particularly isolated. Even when surrounded by loved ones, a family member's impaired ability to hear and participate in conversation cuts them off. Often, they are left with a sense of sadness, inadequacy, and depression. This is especially true when the hearing loss is either unrecognized or is being 'hidden' by the family member with hearing loss."
So this year, be especially vigilant if you see that a family member is quiet at holiday dinners. Maybe they can't hear you and need your help in bringing them close to the family again.
Try these tips to help your loved one with hearing loss feel included in your upcoming holiday celebrations:
- Keep music and television volumes down. Background noise makes it difficult for people with even mild — and sometimes undetected — hearing loss to follow the conversation.
- Try to talk to your loved ones from the side on which they hear best; and always face the person as you speak. Never speak to a hearing impaired individual from behind them.
- Speak clearly and not too fast. Don't talk loudly or shout.
- Remember that the clatter of the dinner table's china, cutlery and glassware can make it difficult for a hearing impaired person to understand you, and try to ensure that when you speak to them clatter is at a minimum.
And if you spot signs of or suspect hearing difficulty in yourself or a loved one, be sure to get tested as soon as possible.
Hearing loss is progressive, meaning that the longer it goes untreated the worse it will get, and that can mean family get-togethers all year round become less fun for the individual with hearing loss.
The path to deafness can be slowed significantly with proper treatment, but only if you act before it's too late.
Treasured memories of holidays past are beautiful things to have, but for many with hearing loss, the ability to create new memories — of a grandchild's first laugh at seeing the family together, jokes and family stories, even the music of the holidays — can be slowed or even stopped if hearing loss goes untreated. Find a professional in your area and get your hearing evaluated as soon as you notice that you or a loved one is having difficulty.