Thanksgiving is a time to gather together with the people we're grateful for. It’s also filled with music, laughter, and conversation, a lot of it... all at once... and typically in a small room. We know it can be a big challenge for the millions of people with hearing loss. Here are some suggestions on how to be mindful of our hard of hearing friends and loved ones.
One of the first things that comes to mind around Thanksgiving is family. Naturally, this brings joy, happiness, good times and better food. The same holds true for those who are hard of hearing, but it doesn't mean the idea of it all can't still be intimidating at times. If you're hosting the dinner festivities, make sure you're keeping all your guests engaged. Likewise, if you have a hearing loss, there a few steps you can take to boost your odds of hearing clearly at the dinner table.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, nearly twenty percent of the U.S. population lives with some form of hearing loss. If your Thanksgiving group consists of 10 people, regardless of age, it's possible that at least two of them may be having a slightly more difficult time hearing than you thought.
The reality is that many people will go to their holiday festivities and essentially “fake their way” through conversations, rather than politely asking others to be mindful of their hearing loss. Often, a level of pride or even embarrassment can prevent them from revealing their hearing loss.
This might lead to attempts at reading lips, nodding, or agreeing to some part of what was said, without comprehending fully. With speech being one of the more difficult frequencies - it's no easy task to make out individual voices clearly among the cacophony of other sounds around the table.
Good conversation matters.
The difficulty with speech, in particular, has led to significant improvements in the speech-enhancement technology developed in modern hearing aids.
If you have a noticeable hearing loss
, one of the most surefire ways to improve your ability to converse is by inserting your hearing aids.
If you have a friend or family member who is stalling or hesitant about integrating hearing aids into their life - give them a helpful nudge in the right direction. Speak with a professional
to determine the level of hearing loss and learn more about the types of hearing aids
Some of the other things you can do to ensure your loved ones are in the conversation:Let people know.
If you can't hear someone, tell them. If you wonder if you're being heard clearly, speak up.Cut the background music.
Music can blend the sounds together from the start - so can loud TVs.Sit closer together.
Get comfortable, get close. You'll hear and be heard better.
Thanksgiving is a time when we get together to catch up and talk about the changes in our lives with people that love us. Take the opportunity to be open and honest about your hearing loss while everyone is together.
If everyone is making a unified effort to improve the level of communication in the room, there will be far less guessing of words or saying, "What?" At the same time, if someone does ask you to repeat yourself or asks, "what was that?" - don't shrug it off with a "nevermind" or "don't worry about it." This can come off as unintentionally dismissive, creating further detachment from the conversation.
This Thanksgiving, before you wonder what spices to marinate your turkey in, remember to think about how you can help those in your family with hearing loss overcome the “Thanksgiving dinner jitters.” After all, you may be saving the holidays for them entirely and relieve their nerves for Christmas dinner.