Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all the good things in life, including the health and happiness of your loved ones. However, if you know people suffering from hearing loss, occasions like this can make them feel really isolated, even if they are surrounded by people they know. Anticipation of these feelings can lead to people withdrawing from social events, which makes matters worse.
If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure that everybody feels welcomed, comfortable and included:
1. Be attentive
Keep an eye on everyone in the room, particularly those who you know or suspect having hearing loss. If they begin to withdraw from the conversation, try reeling them back in with something they are interested in. Perhaps they can be more practically involved in the kitchen?
2. Background volume
Having background music on can create a better atmosphere for the gathering, but be careful with the volume. The same goes if you like to have the TV on too.
A lot of people with hearing loss rely on being able to lip-read or read body language. Ensure the room is brightly lit, so they are able to clearly see what is going on.
4. Rephrase, don’t repeat
Oftentimes, if someone doesn’t hear them, people simply repeat what they’ve said. Different words have different frequencies, with certain sounds being more difficult to hear. Try saying it in another way and they may actually understand you more easily.
5. Speak clearly
It is always bad manners to speak with your mouth full, but it can cause other problems here. Try not to chew, drink, smoke or cover your mouth when you are talking. It will make it much easier for someone with hearing loss to follow the conversation and not miss any vital words.
Taking these steps can create a truly magical thanksgiving for someone who usually doesn’t enjoy it. Above all, however you celebrate it and whoever it is.
Debra Hamila received her master’s degree in audiology from Cleveland State University and her Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences and has been a practicing audiologist for more than 33 years. She has worked in a variety of ENT offices, hospital and clinical settings.