Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. This is a time when we get together with our families; we relax and share stories, watch television, and, of course, eat. But for hearing aid users, large social groups, especially around a large dining room table, are often one of the most difficult environments for a person with a hearing loss. Today’s blog entry is to offer tips for better hearing this holiday season.
1. A few weeks before Thanksgiving call and make an appointment to see your Audiologist for a clean and check and tune up of your hearing aids. You want to ensure that your devices are in peak working condition and that your ears are free of wax. Remember that our offices can get pretty busy the week before Thanksgiving (or for that matter any holiday) so schedule your appointment early. While you’re there, buy some new batteries as well.
2. The morning of Thanksgiving, put new batteries in your hearing aids. The last thing you want is a dead battery during this busy day. Get a little bag and put together some extra supplies. You may want to include a fresh pack of batteries, a cleaning brush and if you have them, an older set of hearing aids just in case something happens to your current set. Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.
3. Before dinner even starts, many of us will turn the television on and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or one of the NFL football games. For hearing aid users the extra noise can cause even more problems or stress. Grab the remote control and keep it by your side. When commercials come on, press the mute button. You don’t want to fight the noisy television to hear what’s being said.
4. Give yourself and your ears plenty of breaks. Find a favorite friend or relative and have a nice, easy one-on-one conversation in a quieter room. Or, play a game or read a story to a child, if that’s an option. If you want, volunteer to help out in the kitchen. But whatever you do, don’t offer to do the dishes – the clanking of the dishes and the sound of the water will prevent you from hearing what’s being said. Plus, it will put your back to the people who are talking. Instead, offer to dry dishes or put food away. Or, just keep everyone company.
5. When sitting down to dinner, make sure you choose a seat that is best for you! If you have a “better side,” seat yourself so that most people are on that side. Seat yourself next to a person you usually have the least difficulty hearing and understanding (avoid those folks with bushy mustaches and beards!). Seat yourself next to someone who usually has the patience to clue you in on what the conversation is about, or the punch lines you may miss. Try to avoid facing a window because of the glare could make it difficult to see people’s faces. Ask your host to turn off any background music during dinner. And if a football game is blaring from a TV, turn it off or if that’s not an option, turn it down or set it on mute. Remember to be pleasant and polite about your needs. But be assertive as well!
6. It’s inevitable that you will have difficulties hearing the conversations with so many people laughing and talking at once. Instead, try to make conversation with the people on either side of you. If you start a conversation, then you’ll know what the topic is, so it will be easier for you to follow. If you miss something, try to ask only for the part you missed, instead of just saying, “what?” Expect that there will be jokes that you will not hear or understand. Stay calm – you have a few options: You can ask the person next to you to tell you what was so funny. You can ask the person next to you to remember what was so funny so they can tell you after dinner. Or, you can always say, “excuse me” to everyone at the table, and ask for the joke to be repeated so you can get it too.
With proper planning people who are hard of hearing can enjoy not only Thanksgiving dinner, but all of the upcoming holiday season’s events.
For more communication tips for the holiday season, or to schedule a hearing aide “tune up” call The Hearing Professionals today.