Ho, Ho, Huh?
There's been a lot in the news recently about how the holidays may impact seniors, especially those with hearing loss.
A press release from the House Research Institute points out that holiday gatherings give family and friends the opportunity to notice a change in a loved one's hearing. Because hearing loss often is gradual over a period of time, many people don't realize that they have it. And family members living in distant locations, with limited contact, may not be aware that an older family member is developing a hearing problem, either. At holiday gatherings, when the family comes together, difficulties in communication may become evident.
"When a person frequently has trouble understanding conversations at holiday parties, family gatherings and in noisy restaurants, it might be a good time for a hearing test and ear examination," says John W. House, MD, president of House Research Institute and physician at the House Clinic. He recommends that people pay close attention to how well they can hear in different situations.
Connect Hearing, a large network of hearing professionals in Canada, offers some tips for hosts and families to help guests that may have trouble hearing:
- Make eye contact and speak clearly to avoid a muffled voice;
- Reduce background chatter by engaging everyone in one conversation;
- Keep background noises like music at low volumes;
- Reduce the sound of clattering dishes with a tablecloth or placemats;
- Seat people with hearing loss so they are backing onto a quiet, open space;
- Ask if the hearing situation can be improved;
- Make a quiet area available where anyone may take a break from a boisterous gathering;
- Share tips on including people with hearing loss with those attending before they arrive.
Recognition of a loved one's hearing loss may do more than enhance communication. According to a press release from SCAN Health Plan, a large, not-for-profit Medicare Advantage Plan, hearing impairment can isolate seniors, especially at the holidays.
"Loud, festive holiday gatherings can be a big problem for people with hearing loss," says Lena Perelman, director of community outreach at SCAN Health Plan.
SCAN suggests that families can help older loved ones by being mindful that they may be experiencing physical changes such as hearing loss, vision changes and loss of dexterity. One of the best gifts for a senior could be time in a quiet space for a one-on-one visit.
As the SCAN release notes, "After all, spending quality time with family is what the holidays are all about."
However you are celebrating the holidays, best wishes from ADVANCE for happy ones.