[Back by popular demand; revised 12/7/17] The holiday season can be a difficult time for people with hearing loss, tinnitus or hyperacusis. The hustle and bustle and crowded social events can aggravate T-H, and can also make it hard to hear conversations (this is true even for people with T and “normal” hearing). This along with stress can make it difficult to cope.
Here are a few small suggestions for your friends, family or loved ones:
- Be supportive during what can be a stressful noisy time.
- If possible, let the person with HL, T-H decide if they want background music or sounds on and let them set the loudness.
- Plan a refuge area in a quiet dim room away from the hustle and bustle so that people with HL, T-H can take a break if they need to.
- Be understanding if someone has significant hyperacusis and needs to wear filtered earplugs during social gatherings or events. They can still hear, it just makes it more comfortable.
- Use communication strategies to help in difficult listening situations. This might include:
- Speak face-to-face or from close by (not from another room or while walking away.)
- Speak clearly and precisely, emphasizing key words and pausing between phrases and sentences. For example, “Tha shiplef ona twoweecruise.” becomes “The ship left on a two week cruise.”
- Get our attention before talking (e.g. say our name or gently touch our arm).
- Be aware background noise makes it harder to understand. Move to a quieter area to talk if you need to.
- If you’re going out, try to pick a quiet place with no or very low piped in music.
For everyone with HL, T-H, have reasonable expectations of what you can do. Try not to feel like you have to do everything, go everywhere, or please everybody. Don’t forget to take care of yourselves. Wishing you all the best, and a healing, peaceful New Year to everyone.
(previously published in December, 2012 and December 2015)
Jan L. Mayes MSc writes horror fiction and non-fiction, and is an international Eric Hoffer Award winning author, blogger and audiologist specializing in noise, tinnitus-hyperacusis, hearing health education and plotting murders. Her writing has been featured at Tinnitus Today, Communique, silencity.com and The Horror News Daily.