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Tips From Our Doctors of Audiology To Hear Better During Holiday Dinners

The holidays are about togetherness, but with untreated hearing loss, you can feel disconnected, even during a time filled with family gatherings.

If you suspect you have hearing loss, getting fitted with hearing aids is the best seasonal gift you can give yourself. In addition, here are some tips from the Hearing And Balance Doctors to help you hear better when someone asks you to pass the gravy. These are also useful for people who wear hearing aids but still find large gatherings challenging.

Turn Down Distractions

If you’re at a holiday dinner and music or the TV is blaring in the background, ask that it be turned off or at least lowered. Few people would begrudge you wanting to hear better, without the distraction of competing sounds. Given that 20 percent of Americans have hearing loss, you might even find that another guest or two is appreciative of your request.

Oh, Holy Sight

Many people with hearing loss compensate by reading lips. This strategy can be hampered, though, if the lights are dimmed for an elegant effect. Advocate for yourself by asking that the lights be turned up so you can better discern what’s being said.

Also, if a centerpiece is blocking your ability to see guests’ mouths, ask that the decor be shifted during the meal so you can successfully lip-read.

Location, Location, Location

Where you sit at the dinner table can make all the difference in how well you hear. Consider choosing a seat near the wall, a placement that blocks out excessive background noise.

Don’t Let It Be a Silent Night

People with hearing loss become adept at faking it. When you can’t make out what’s being said, it’s tempting to play along–smiling, nodding or forcing a laugh.

Holiday gatherings are special occasions, though, offering the chance to strengthen the bonds of family and friendship. With this in mind, honesty is the best policy. Let your host know ahead of time that you have hearing challenges. They may have ideas on how to help you keep up with the conversation, measures like speaking more loudly when addressing you or turning so you can see their lips move.

If you still miss something you want to hear, let the speaker know. It’s as simple as saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. Could you repeat what you just said?”

Choose A Partner

Consider partnering up for your holiday meal, having a spouse or other caring person sit next to you to provide assistance. If you miss something, you can signal to them to repeat what’s just been said.

Let It Go

Dinner party conversations have an organic quality. People sometimes talk over one another and it’s common for a number of smaller conversations to spring up around the table. Don’t feel like you have to be a part of every conversation.

Embrace Hearing Aids

Someone with healthy hearing picks up the countless sounds at a gathering, from the voices of our immediate neighbors to more distant conversations. These include competing noises like crying children, barking dogs, traffic and clanking dishes.

These signals are sent to the brain which filters them into streams. It knows to focus on important things like that anecdote that has everyone at the table laughing while suppressing background noises like a horn honking in the distance.

Without hearing loss, your ability to block out background noises decreases. This is why it’s best to embrace hearing aids. It may take a while but you can recover your lost auditory processing skills. And tech is incorporated in today’s hearing aids to immediately help you separate the wheat from the chaff, aurally speaking.

Most of today’s hearing aids use a speech enhancer to bring voices to the forefront while reducing background noise. Many also come equipped with directional microphones to help you further hone in on conversations. These help you focus on the sounds in front of you while reducing the sounds behind you and to your sides.

You can also invest in a remote microphone compatible with your hearing aids. Place one near your host to pick up instructions–You can, for instance, place one near your host to pick up instructions–”We have roast beef in the kitchen if you want to get a slice”–and hear the pre-meal blessing.

If you have untreated hearing loss and are ready to become an active participant at gatherings again, schedule an appointment with our doctors of Audiology at Hearing & Balance Doctors of St. George.

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