If you don't know what to get your friends and family this holiday season, especially because they seem to have everything they need or want, consider instead giving the gift of help. For a friend or family member that has hearing loss, there are many things you can do to help out that don't require money and are even more special than a gift, including:
Offering to drive your friend to an audiologist appointment
For people with hearing loss, driving can sometimes be a challenge and be a bit uncomfortable, so offering rides is a great thing to do. Also, if it is your friend's very first appointment with an audiologist to check out and assess his or her hearing, your support will definitely be appreciated, as it usually isn't easy for people to take that first big step toward getting hearing aids.
Talking to your family member about hearing loss
While this doesn't necessarily have to be your gift, if you have noticed a family member is having a difficult time hearing lately, the holidays are the perfect time to talk about it. Choose a quiet, comfortable place and let your family member know that you've noticed he or she is having a little difficulty hearing. Make sure to stay calm and only bring it up out of love - refrain from mentioning things like a frustrating moment or being critical. Express that you're concerned that he or she is missing out on fun or important things in life. Be non judgmental and make sure to listen. Offer your support when he or she is ready to see an audiologist.
Volunteering to get his or her hearing aids cleaned
Hearing aids need regular maintenance and occasional deep cleanings at an audiologist's office. Right before the holidays is a great time to make sure hearing aids are in tip-top shape so your family member or friend is able to hear and communicate easily and enjoy his or her time with family and friends to the fullest. Offer to take the hearing aids in to the local audiologist to be cleaned, pick up fresh batteries or even clean the hearing aids yourself at home - provided you know how to do it. This can be especially helpful for a family member or friend who has difficulty cleaning his or her hearing aids due to arthritis.
Advising other family members about how they can help
Send an email or a note to other family members just before you get together during the holidays to remind them of the things they can do to help make hearing easier. Include tips like:
- Turn off the TV and limit other background noise.
- When speaking to the person, make sure you are facing him or her, don't chew gum and keep your hands away from your mouth to help your family member lipread.
- Don't talk over or interrupt each other.
- Find a quiet place for a one-on-one conversation.