Hearing Loss & Thanksgiving

Halloween is a distant memory now, its last visible signs the moldy pumpkin on your neighbor’s porch and the candy jar filled with Tootsie Rolls – always the last to go! Our attention turns to Thanksgiving instead. If you’re hosting the big feast this year, scoring a large enough turkey to feed a houseful of guests shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind if you’ll have somebody with hearing loss joining the festivities. You’ll need to think about preparing your home to ensure these guests have an enjoyable and stress-free holiday.

Gobble Up These Tips for an Inviting Home

felt turkeys decorated as pilgrims

About one in five people in American Fork have been diagnosed with hearing loss. For these individuals, the holidays can be a challenge. They often do not feel included in the festivities and may experience isolation, withdrawal, and depression. Taking a few simple steps will help your hearing-impaired guests have an enjoyable Turkey Day and give them plenty to be thankful for.

Take the following steps to make your home more inviting for guests with hearing loss:

  1. Set up your home to make it more accessible for the hearing-impaired. Provide adequate lighting to enable those guests with hearing loss who rely on facial cues to aid in communicating the ability to more easily see facial expressions and the mouths of people who are speaking. Give some thought to seating arrangements, as well; those with hearing loss will do best in a quiet corner away from the noise and distraction of the kitchen.
  2. 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. Keep this in mind if you’ve got your TV tuned to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or a football game, as well. And for crying out loud, save the holiday music for the next day. Nobody needs to hear “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” until the turkey and mashed potatoes are being configured into leftovers – even those with perfectly fine hearing!
  3. 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. Include them in the conversation as much as possible.
  4. Face the person when speaking. Many hard of hearing individuals rely on facial cues and/or lipreading in order to communicate. Face your hearing-impaired guest when speaking so they can understand your words more easily.
  5. Speak slowly and clearly. Do not mumble and resist the urge to shout. Stick to simple words and phrases delivered in a normal tone of voice. Make sure to avoid speaking while eating (rudeness alert!!) and do not cover your mouth with a napkin or your hands.
  6. Rephrase rather than repeat. If your hearing-impaired guest is having trouble understanding, you’ll be tempted to repeat yourself (and will probably raise your voice to overcompensate). Try rephrasing instead, using a different word that conveys the same meaning. Often, a particular vowel or consonant causes trouble.
  7. Don’t hold a conversation from far away. Remaining in close proximity when conversing with guests who are hard of hearing will ensure they understand what you are saying more easily and allows them to see your mouth and facial expressions.

These simple steps will help ensure a happy Thanksgiving for everybody gathered in your home for the holiday. For additional tips, contact your American Fork audiologist.

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