How to Handle Family Gatherings with Hearing Loss
All kidding aside, if you think Uncle Ted isn't listening to you as you regale the family about your latest promotion during the holiday get together, you may be on to something. The holiday season is often the first time family notice someone is having trouble hearing.
One out of ten Americans has some form of hearing loss. The odds grow to one in three for Americans over the age of 65.
Hearing health experts believe hearing loss is also responsible for a myriad of mental health-related issues such as depression, anxiety and anger. The problem escalates during the holidays when hearing impaired family members must choose between the frustration of not being able to understand the conversation or not participating in the celebration at all.
The key to having a successful gathering with a hearing-impaired relative is a little advanced planning. First, it's important to recognize when a loved one may be having difficulty hearing. Signs include:
Once you recognize a family member is having difficulty, create an environment that allows for inclusion. For example:
While it might be tempting to call attention to loss of hearing while you're all together, a holiday gathering isn't the time to stage an intervention. Opt to keep the mood light and all members of the family engaged in the conversation as much as possible. When the time is right, suggest your loved one have a hearing evaluation and become educated about the latest hearing aid technology.
Many instruments are virtually invisible and have features such as directional microphones and background noise reduction to help with speech understanding -- which just might help Uncle Ted be able to appreciate a lot more in life than the holiday season.