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. Sometimes it’s noisy, sometimes it’s hard to hear over the kids playing, or other conversations.

Is hearing loss getting in the way of your relaxing family time?   

7 tips for managing Christmas Day

1. Sit in a good spot

Often it is helpful to sit with a wall behind you and in the centre 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 be shy about talking to family and friends about which might be a better seat for you.

2. Keep the volume down during Christmas dinner

Turn the TV off and the music down 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 various sounds.  If you only wear your hearing aids in noisy group situations your brain will probably find the sound over whelming – a bit like running a marathon with out 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 current hearing aids as they work so well.

So if your hearing aids are “in the draw” start wearing them in the few weeks coming up to Christmas.  If you are not happy with the way your hearing aids are working for you, make an appointment to come in and we will set up correctly for you, so you can wear them all the time.

5. Try connectivity to other technologies

Remote microphones allows you to hear a person who is further away. The person you are talking to can clip on a microphone or you can placed it at the other end of the table. The microphone picks up the conversation and transmits it directly to your hearing aids. This has the effect of bringing the sound directly into your ears, removing the effect of distance.

Most hearing aids can now connect directly to an iPhone (with connecting to Android phones just around the corner). This connectivity allows your iPhone to be used as a remote microphone. You can put your phone near the person you want to listen too and hear them easily. There are many technologies available now that connect up with your hearing aids.  They connect to your phone, TV, computer and sound system.

6. Have reasonable expectations

You may not hear everything that everyone says – and that’s okay. 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?

7. 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 some of 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 feeling around the table. Enjoy the moment.

A bit about Auckland Hearing

Auckland Hearing is an independent hearing aid and audiology clinic set up by Maree O’Sullivan.  Maree has worked in Audiology for 20 years and started Auckland Hearing so she could focus on the needs of each client (rather than corporate profits).

We provide a full range of hearing services and work with all of the hearing aid brands that are approved by the Ministry of Health.  This means we can fit the hearing aids that best suit your needs. Check out some information about hearing aid prices here

Maree O'Sullivan - Audiologist