Monday, December 16, 2013

Guidelines for Attending Family Holiday Gatherings... When Hearing Affects Cheering!

Below is an excerpt from our December e-newsletter entitled: "Guidelines for Family Holiday Gatherings and Gift Ideas." To read the entire newsletter, click here.

Just ask anybody with hearing loss: the biggest challenge is hearing in noise, and by definition, family gatherings are noisy. Here are some "rules of engagement" for hosting or mediating a family gathering during the holidays:
  • Before the gathering begins, give each part of your hearing aids a thorough cleaning. Use wet wipes to remove external debris, change the tips or domes, replace the wax traps and/or filters, use your "wire" to clean the tubing. Also, change the batteries. Be sure to check your stash of batteries early, so you always have a supply. The more noise, the greater the battery drain.
  • When dining in, turn down the music during dinner. A tablecloth and linen napkins act to reduce reverberation or echo in the dining room. Echo always reduces clarity. Try to place a cloth cover on the buffet, on the coffee table, and add fabric pillows to a leather sofa to help absorb, rather than reflect sound.
  • Sit at the end of the table so you can SEE everyone. Visual cues always reduce the auditory effort.
  • When dining out, always pick a seat with your back to the room. A table near a wall is best, and sit facing your friend who is seated with her back to the wall. This positioning helps the hearing aids do their best: raise the speech in front of you and lower the noise behind you. All of you folks who like to sit facing the entrance, you will pick up too much noise, and not enough conversation. This worked for cowboys, but not anybody else.
  • Consider making a restaurant reservation for a booth. This captures the immediate conversation and helps to lower the conversations from the next table.
  • At your place of worship, arrive early enough to sit one third back. This place usually works best with a PA system. DO NOT sit in or under the balcony. If your place of worship has a new PA system, inquire about the accessibility for those with hearing challenges: it may be compatible with the telephone program in your hearing aids.
  • Most hearing aids now accept a remote mic to improve noisy conversations (the clarity not the content!). Check with your audiologist to try a trial with a remote mic over the holidays. The remote mic is great for Christmas Eve services, noisy restaurants, "Hail Mary" football games.

Image provided courtesy of Gualberto107 of

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