Happy Holidays! Your guide to hearing better around the holiday dinner table

Adapted from a story originally posted on The Wire, a Cochlear Americas blog for recipients. Read it here.

Merry Christmas from Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

Whether you celebrate a religious holiday, mark the passing of the seasons, or just meet with family and friends to bring some light to the dark season, wintertime is a time for friends, family and feasts. But the holiday season can be tricky for people with hearing loss who may struggle to hear when festivities bring a lot of people together in a small area. The chatter, cooking, clanking of dishes and other noise tend to make hearing difficult.

Here are eight simple things you can do to improve your hearing situation and get the most out of your holiday celebrations:

  1. Choose a seat carefully. Whether your holiday dinners have place cards and assigned seats or it’s a first-come-first-served situation, you have options. Arrive early and scope out the seating arrangements, then pick a spot where your best hearing side is facing the majority of the other participants. If your spot isn’t working and you need to switch with someone, just ask! They’ll more than likely be willing to trade if you explain that it would help you to hear the conversations taking place.
  2. Place your Mini Mic 2 or Mini Mic 2+ at the centre of the table. This will help to amplify everyone’s voices and allow you to focus on what everyone is saying. You can also clip it to an individual person’s shirt, if you’re having a hard time understanding a specific person. By streaming the audio directly from the person to your sound processor, you reduce the distance and background noise that can make it so difficult to understand what someone is saying. (To read about more CochlearTM True WirelessTM accessories, click here.)
  3. Move away from the group for one-on-one conversations. If you’re talking with one or two people before/after dinner, consider asking them to move to a quieter area to speak. Either step into a nearby room or walk out into the backyard. Not only will this reduce the noise from every other conversation, but it will also remove background noises such as the television and music.
  4. Adjust your programming. Use your remote control to discreetly change your processor’s volume or program. On the Baha® 5 processor, you can adjust your controls right from your iPhone or Android device with the Baha Smart App. It’s never been easier to raise or lower the volume, and that can mean a better hearing experience. Download the Smart App here.
  5. Pack extra batteries. The only thing worse than running out of mashed potatoes is running out of batteries when your processor needs them the most. Avoid unnecessary trips to the store by making sure to pack plenty of batteries, plus some extras in case you encounter unforeseen problems.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Most people will be more than happy to accommodate small requests that help you to hear them. For example, you could ask a soft-spoken family member, “Please make sure you face me when you are speaking.” Or, if the sounds from the television or background music are proving to be distracting, ask the host if they can mute them so you can focus on conversation. Simple steps like these can make a huge difference.
  7. Use the TV Streamer to watch holiday movies with the family. If everyone in the house is crowded around the television, it may be difficult to find a comfortable spot that allows you to hear your favorite Christmas movie. The good news is, the TV Streamer makes it easy to stream audio wirelessly from the TV to your processor. Plus it’s quick and easy to set up, so you can have it ready to go before the opening credits are done. You can choose to mix the sound of the TV with the sounds of your environment, or completely tune out environmental sounds when you want to focus on your favorite parts of the movie. Read more about the TV Streamer here.
  8. Take breaks. Large holiday gatherings can be exhausting for anyone, let alone someone with hearing loss. Don’t forget that it takes a lot of work for your brain to decipher all the added stimuli, and it’s a good thing to give yourself a chance to rest. Plus, it’s a vacation—so let yourself enjoy it! If you begin to feel tired, excuse yourself to take a walk or lay down in a quiet room. Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of peace and quiet to refresh yourself.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the perfect holiday, but by following these hearing tips, you’ll set yourself up for success.