Thanksgiving is just a week away, so if you don’t have your turkey yet, you’d better make a beeline to the grocery store! Holiday prep involves more than just food when you’re dealing with a guest who has hearing loss. Here are some tips for making sure they feel included in the holiday festivities.
Gobble Up These Holiday Tips
About one in five people in Topeka has hearing loss. The holidays can be challenging for these individuals, who may not feel included in the festivities. People who struggle to hear often feel uncomfortable in social gatherings; they tend to withdraw from others and may experience isolation, loneliness and depression. Thanksgiving brings people together, and there are steps you can take to help your hearing-impaired guest have an enjoyable Turkey Day. They will find plenty to be thankful for when you make them feel included!
Follow These Steps to Help Guests with Hearing Loss
The following steps will help guests with hearing loss feel at home during the holiday season.
Set up your home so it is accessible for the hearing-impaired
Provide adequate lighting to enable guests who rely on facial cues to help them communicate more easily see facial expressions and the mouths of people who are speaking. A candle-lit centerpiece is fine, but be sure to have additional lighting. Seat your hearing-impaired guest in a quiet corner away from the noise and distraction of the kitchen.
Keep the music low
Soft music adds to the holiday ambience, but if it’s too noisy it can prove distracting to those with hearing loss. The same applies to television; turn down the volume if you’ve got your TV tuned to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or a football game. And please, save the holiday music for Black Friday. Nobody needs to hear “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” until the turkey and mashed potatoes are being turned into creative leftovers—even those who can hear fine!
Include everybody in the conversation
Hearing-impaired guests may act quiet or appear uncomfortable. It’s not that they are antisocial; they may simply be feeling left out of the conversation. Include them in the discussion as much as possible, but take a cue: if they are still quiet, they may be experiencing listening fatigue. In this case, let them dictate how much they wish to speak.
Face the person when speaking
. Many people who are hard of hearing rely on facial cues and/or lipreading in order to communicate. Face your hearing-impaired guest when talking to them so they can understand your words more easily.
Speak slowly and clearly
There’s no need to over-enunciate or shout; instead, use simple words and phrases delivered in a normal tone of voice. Don’t speak when eating or cover your mouth with a napkin or your hands when talking; not only is this rude, but it prevents your hearing-impaired guest from seeing your mouth and facial expressions.
Rephrase rather than repeat
If your guest is having trouble understanding what you have said, you’ll be tempted to repeat yourself and raise your voice to compensate. Instead, try rephrasing what you have said, using different words that convey the same meaning. Often, a particular consonant or vowel causes trouble.
Don’t hold a conversation from a distance
Remaining in close proximity when talking to guests who are hard of hearing will help them understand what you are saying more easily and allows them to see your mouth and facial expressions. Shouting from another room won’t cut it!
These simple steps will help ensure a happy Thanksgiving for everybody gathered in your home this holiday season. For more tips, speak to an audiologist in Topeka.