Holidays with Hearing Loss: 12 Tips for Families

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year – or the most stressful! For people with hearing loss, the season’s gatherings often mean struggling to connect with friends and family through tables of competing conversations and clattering dishes.

Whether you have hearing loss or are hosting someone who does, there are a number of things you can do to help everyone stay connected during festivities. Read below for 12 survival tips guaranteed to keep the holidays merry and bright.

If you have hearing loss…

  • Wear your hearing aids, if you have them! It should go without saying, but this step is often forgotten. Also considering paying your hearing specialist a visit for a hearing aid tune-up before heading out for the holidays and be sure to bring extra batteries to all holiday events.
  • Don’t be shy about your needs. Let your loved ones know that you want to make sure you’re a part of conversations. Ask them to keep background noise such as music or television to a minimum and speak clearly.
  • Team up! Partner with a friend or relative ahead of time who can help keep you in the loop by filling you in on any bits of conversation you may miss.
  • Stay rested. It’s a lot of work trying to keep up with conversations when you have hearing loss. Be sure to get rest the day before and take a few minutes away from the crowd to refresh as needed to avoid hearing fatigue.
  • Go one-on-one.  Find chances to connect with individuals in a quiet room. Take the grandkids aside for some playtime or help the cook out in the kitchen.
  • Be strategic with your seating. Try to sit against a wall, in a position where you will be able to see as many people as possible. If you have a “good ear” position yourself to maximize its use. Seat those with quiet or high-pitched voices (such as children) closest to you.
  • Clear your view. Visual cues are critical for keeping up with the conversation, so make sure you can see everyone at the dinner table. Keep the room well-lit and remove any excessive centerpieces.
  • Go easy on yourself! Group settings are a challenging hearing situation. Even people with no hearing loss may have trouble following every conversation. Have your best holiday by having realistic expectations and celebrating the positives.

If you’re hosting a guest with hearing loss…

  • Get their attention. Before you start speaking, say the person’s name or touch their arm so they can “tune in” to what you’re saying.
  • Reduce excess noise. Turn off background noise like TV and music.
  • Speak naturally, but clearly. Shouting or over-emphasizing your words can actually make them harder to understand. Make lip-reading easier by refraining from chewing while talking.
  • Have the conversation, one-on-one. Holidays and family gatherings are often the moment when the difficulties of hearing loss become most apparent. If you’re ready to approach a loved one about treating their hearing loss, wait until after the big gathering has died down so you can talk one-on-one. Use our tips for helping a loved one with hearing loss to address the issues and see if they’ll take the first step toward better hearing through an easy online hearing test.



5 Easy Ways to Prevent Childhood Hearing Loss

March 3rd marks World Hearing Day, an effort by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise public awareness of hearing loss and hearing health. This year’s theme, “Childhood hearing loss: act now, here is how!”, highlights the 32 million children with hearing loss worldwide and aims to raise awareness of the importance of early hearing loss detection during this critical period of  language and social development.

Causes of Hearing Loss in Children

While the WHO estimates about 40 percent of hearing loss is caused by genetic factors, the remaining 60 percent of causes are preventable.  Preventable causes include infections, exposure ototoxic medications, and birth complications. Exposure to loud noises, whether from electronics or loud crowds, also poses a threat to children’s ears.

What Parents Can Do

Here are five ways parents can help keep their children’s hearing safe.

  1. Buy Noise-Limiting Headphones

Kids and teens have a tendency to push volume to the limits. Use noise reducing headphones like these to ensure they’ll never turn it high enough to damage their hearing.

  1. Listen to Your Children’s Toys

Many commonly sold children’s toys emit sounds over 85 decibels, the level at which hearing damage occurs. Test your children’s toys by downloading a free sound meter on your smartphone. If toys test too loud, you can either remove the batteries or place duct tape over the speaker until it falls within the safe range.

  1. Invest in Ear Protection

Infant wearing hearing protection

Children should always wear ear protection at events where there will be crowds, loud music, and other loud sounds, such as fireworks. Invest in a set of earmuff-like hearing protectors on hand to make sure children’s ears are protected from their earliest days.


  1. Vaccinate

Infections such as measles, mumps and rubella remain a leading cause of childhood hearing loss worldwide. Vaccinating your child against these viruses helps to protect their hearing and prevents the spread of these viruses to others who are not be able to be vaccinated due to pre-existing health conditions.

  1. Model Safe Listening Habits

Our society tends to underestimate the value of hearing and how easily it can be damaged. By providing a better model of hearing care, you grow your child’s awareness of hearing dangers and the importance of protecting their ears.  Some ways to do this include turning down the television and electronic devices when they are too loud, covering your ears when exposed to sudden loud noises, and discussing the importance of using headphones at a safe volume.



Do I Really Need an Annual Hearing Test?

Wondering if you’re overdue for a hearing check-up? Health professionals recommend getting a baseline hearing test by the time you reach adulthood and an annual hearing test after age 55. Here’s why:

Hearing Loss Usually Goes Undetected Until It’s Serious

No one wakes up one day thinking, “My hearing just isn’t what it was this time last year.” Instead, most people wait to get their hearing tested until they’re experiencing serious communication problems – an average of 10 years after the first signs of hearing loss appear.  By monitoring your hearing for changes, you can catch problems before they have a chance to impact your life.

Reason 2: Hearing Loss is Tied to Serious Health Problems

Studies have linked hearing loss to major health problems including depression and dementia. Getting hearing loss treated promptly has been shown to both reduce depression symptoms and to help maintain cognitive functioning.

Reason 3: Hearing Loss is Bad for Relationships

You’re annoyed about having to ask people to repeat themselves. Meanwhile, family and friends feel like you’re just not paying attention. While you may think you hear okay, just a few misunderstandings each day can take their toll at both home and work.

In reality, many of these problems are common signs of hearing loss:

  • You often ask others to repeat what they say.
  • You feel like everyone is mumbling.
  • You have trouble understanding speech when there’s a lot of background noise or when the speaker is behind you.
  • Others complain you have the TV or radio on too loud.

Whether or not you suspect you have a hearing loss, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your hearing with an annual hearing checkup. The test is free, painless and takes less than an hour.

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