Is Thanksgiving a Good Time to Talk About Hearing Loss?
November 09, 2019
Submitted by Bob West, M.S., HAS Director of Business Development, Audibel Hearing Healthcare
As families come together for the holidays, one of our primary focuses tends to be food. Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie and all the other delicacies we associate with this time of year, are what many of us look forward to all year long.
Thanksgiving is a time of joy, when we take a break from our hectic daily lives to enjoy food and one another’s company. Family members gather from all over and catch each other up on our lives around the dinner table. However, if one of our family members has untreated hearing loss, he or she may be left out of the conversation, leading to feelings of isolation and depression as hearing in noise can definitely pose extra challenges.
When the family is together this is a great time to address changes in anyone’s hearing, whether subtle or obvious. When with elders, or other hearing-challenged family members, you may notice the problems they are having communicating with others. Try to notice any difficulties in hearing, and especially pay attention to their behavior. When someone has hearing loss it is easier for them to avoid the conversation rather than to participate. Perhaps mom stays in the kitchen, or dad in front of the TV ball game. Do they join in conversations? If they are in on a conversation, do they monopolize it? That’s one way to avoid having to answer any misunderstood questions.
What is the conversation like during Thanksgiving Dinner? If you ask your dad to pass the potatoes, did he think you said tomatoes? Do you need to raise your voice to get him to hear? Does he always talk loudly? This is common because he sometimes can’t hear their own voice. How often do you have to repeat?
During the TV football game, does your dad always have to ask for the score? He could have a hearing loss. Does your mom fall asleep in her chair in spite of all the cheering and yelling? She would have to suffer some hearing loss to sleep through all that noise!
As you observe these behaviors, it is a good time to point them out as the frustrating situations are fresh in their minds, and yours. Gently and lovingly suggest that your parents and other elders have their hearing tested to see if hearing aids might improve their ability to hear in many situations. Family support in purchasing hearing aids helps a great deal during the decision making process. You may want to suggest that you will go with them to their hearing test appointment Make it a fun, family togetherness opportunity.
Since hearing tends to decline gradually, your parents and other elders may not even notice that they have a hearing loss. They just may need you and other family members to point it out. Many parents who know they need hearing aids put if off thinking they are too “old” for the investment. You may need to assure them that they are not too old to get hearing aids and that you want to enjoy your conversing with them while they are still around.
If they haven’t already or aren’t willing to take that next step, here are a few things you can do to make their Thanksgiving celebration a little easier:
- Reduce extraneous background noise as much as possible by turning off the television and not playing music.
- Make an extra effort to annunciate and speak at an even pace.
- Don’t shout at someone with hearing loss. You’re going for clarity, not screaming. Shouting will only irritate everyone.
- Position yourself so that you and your loved one are facing one another when you talk, if possible. If you they hear better from their right ear, try to from that side.
- Encourage the rest of the family not to speak over one another and to keep their conversations reasonably pitched.
- Keep any frustration you have with your loved ones to yourself. Don’t scold them for not doing anything about their hearing loss in front of everyone. Shaming someone is a cruel and ineffective way to get anyone to seek help.
Thanksgiving weekend could be a great time to gently point out any communication faux pas, laugh about them together, and suggest a hearing test. If they are already considering hearing aids as an option, encourage them to try some.
Audibel Hearing Healthcare has been serving the Pine Belt with the highest level of care for over 50 years. With 11 offices throughout south Mississippi and Alabama, Audibel delivers the best technology research, quality instruments and customer service in the hearing industry while offering the highest quality, American made hearing aids available. They also offer custom swim plugs, ear plugs, musicians in-ear monitors, hunter’s ears and many other hearing protection products and services. Call 601-329-2946 or Toll Free at 1-888-354-2143 or visit them at www.audibelms.com for your free hearing exam and start experiencing Better Hearing, Better Life today!
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