Tips for Christmas Day when you have hearing loss

From Attune's Allan Fort

Christmas is a social time, a family time. It’s nice to sit back, relax and catch up with family and friends who we haven’t seen in a while.

  1. Sit in a good spot

Often it is helpful to sit with a wall behind you and in the middle of the table. This gives a better chance of hearing more of the conversation and not being distracted by sounds from behind. Try not to be shy about talking to family and friends about which might be a better seat for you.

  1. Keep the volume down during Christmas dinner

Turn down the music and turn off the TV during dinner. Added noise causes something called the Lombard effect – when it is noisy people talk louder. This can significantly increase the overall noise level making it quite difficult to follow conversations. Others may not even notice if you turn it down before the meal. Hearing in noise is very challenging even for people with minimal hearing losses.

  1. Talk to those sitting next to you

Try and avoid conversations across large distances. If you need to talk, move closer, or ask that you continue later, when you can sit closer together.

  1. Wear your hearing aids – all day every day

Wearing your hearing aids keeps your brain and hearing system active. People who only wear their hearing aids “when they need them” tend to be the same people who are unsuccessful with hearing aids. This is because their brain never has time to adjust to hearing sound. If you only wear your hearing aids in noisy group situations your brain will probably find the sound overwhelming – a bit like running a marathon without doing any training.

Wearing hearing aids all the time creates a new normal – normal to hear sounds (rather than normal to miss sounds). Your brain works out which sounds are important and which sounds are not important.

When you first get hearing aids you become very aware of all the sounds around you. The more you wear the aids the more your brain adapts, it will decide “that” sound is not important and it will no longer jump into your attention and you will no longer notice it. This process happens very quickly with the new technology in hearing aids.

  1. Have reasonable expectations

You may not hear everything that everyone says – and that’s ok. Enjoy talking to the people near you and seek out the others and talk to them later. Could you suggest you all rotate seats for dessert?

  1. Bring your sense of Humour

It can be hard to keep it all in perspective during Christmas festivities, especially if you feel like you are missing out on the fun. Try to laugh a little and be grateful for the wonderful friends and family around you. You may not hear every word they say but you can partake in all of the good feelings around the table. Enjoy the moment.