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.

3. Lighting

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.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Natacia N. Howard

Natacia is from a small village in northern Wisconsin. She obtained her Doctorate of Audiology (Au.D.) from A.T. Still University – Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2013. She joined Scottsdale Ear, Nose and Throat in 2016 and specializes in vestibular diagnostic and hearing aid fittings. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with her husband, family and friends, cuddle her kitties and play softball.
    You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again – Regina’s Story

    Regina has suffered from hearing problems since she was an infant, recognized as regular chronic ear infections. And, as with unfortunate events, she has experienced a multitude of audiology catastrophes.

    It was many years before Regina crossed paths with Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat; where her lifetime of hearing problems was addressed effectively and treated with the delicate care that she desperately required.

    Regina’s journey began when she was taken to a regular paediatrician by her mother from a young age. Her ears were, what we describe as an audiologists recipe for disaster, ‘flushed out’.

    This dangerous procedure caused a nasty infection, which spread to her mastoid bone and, at the age of 15, she underwent a tympanoplasty mastoidectomy to stop the infection spreading. This only forbade her future struggles with hearing loss. 

    As with poor diagnosis, Regina was faced with another canaloplasty which didn’t work. Soon after, she received a BAHA, which is a cochlear implant in her skull that acts as a sound processor that detects sound and transforms it into vibrations. 

    However, suffering from a history of poor hearing care, she was unaware of the former issues her ear presented.

    By now, this would be described as any audiologists nightmare. But, we’re proud to have helped Regina on her road to optimum hearing and reconnect her to her loved ones.

    When she arrived at Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat it was evident that she was losing hearing on her right side. At this point, she was fitted with a ReSound hearing device, which provided the catalyst to a new and improved hearing.

    The first thing Regina noticed was the indefinite sound she had been making whilst emptying the dishwasher, completely unaware of the noise she was making!

    “I mean, the detail that I can hear now it’s like, Whoa, I didn’t realize I was making that much noise. I need to be quieter!”

    Treated with professional care, Regina received a comprehensive hearing assessment with Dr. Debra Hamila.

    “I just love, love, love Dr. Hamila, she is such a professional and loving person. I was so impressed with the office and what she did with the ReSound, I just love her.”

    Like many others, it takes years for people to realize they have a hearing problem. Regina described this moment as life-changing.

    “You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again. Especially now I’m a full-time Grammy Nanny, I can hear so much more and it has enriched my life incredibly.”

    What advice would you give to someone who is deliberating on taking the first step towards better hearing?

    “My advice to them would be to have a hearing test. Especially as we age our hearing goes down. It’s really unfortunate that people carry their pride and are not willing to learn to walk with the rock in their shoe. You don’t realise you’re waking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again.”

    Regina is one of many patients who has been impacted by our audiological services and we are proud to have been able to provide the tool towards better hearing and a lifetime of many more memories.