Tips To Handle Family Gatherings,

Parties and Holidays



  1. Check your EXPECTATIONS.  If you are expecting it to snow on Christmas day and it is not, you might feel disappointed.  The same goes with hearing loss, if you are expecting to experience the holidays in the same fashion you experienced them when you were hearing, you might end up feeling much disappointment.


  1. Nowadays, there are many wonderful and efficient ASSISTIVE LISTENING DEVICES such as a portable microphone or a FM system, bring it and use it!  If you do not have one, learn and research to find out if you would benefit from one.


  1. Hold the festivities at your home where you can CONTROL THE ENVIRONMENT or work with the host and make the room work for you: can the background music be turned down or even off? Can the lighting be turned up a bit?  Can the flower arrangements on the dinning room table be moved or place somewhere else?


  1. Asking for help is more a strength than a weakness.  Bring a FRIEND or designated someone you know to the party to be your ears when you cannot understand.  If the party is several hours long, try to switch between one or two people.  Stay near them and when you do not understand something, ask them to repeat it for you.


  1. Share with people that you are hard of hearing EARLY on the conversations… don’t wait until the awkward and embarrassing moment.  Remember to be SPECIFIC on your COMMUNICATION NEEDS. For example: “I have a hearing loss, it would help me greatly if you could face me, articulate and speak slowly.”  If you just say you are hard of hearing, people will acknowledge it and forget it.  Most people have no idea what to do with you, so it is your responsibility to tell them.


  1. Use LEADING QUESTIONS instead of the traditional “huh? What? Can you say that again?”  When you missed part of what was being said or you did not hear clearly, inquire about the part you missed and try to be as specific as possible.  For example,  “I know you are talking about movies, but I missed the name of the specific movie.”  Sometimes you missed only few details but you force the speaker to say everything again which can lead to frustration for both you and the speaker. 


  1. When you really did not get it or you have no idea what the person is saying, simply ask the speaker to REPHRASE, so instead of having him repeat the same thing, ask the speaker to say it again using a different vocabulary.  Sometimes, we are likely to understand a word better than another.


  1. Feeling overloaded?  Do not hesitate to TAKE A BREAK.  Go to the bathroom, wash you hands, put some cream on them, fix your hair, take a big breath and when you feel ready, go back.  Going to a party or a family gathering when you have a hearing loss is draining no matter accommodating people are.  


  1. Remember that hearing people DO NOT HEAR EVERY SINGLE THING that is being said either.  Think about this when you feel you are growing frustrated around the table because you are missing the small talk.  Be COMPASSIONATE to yourself.


  1. You might want to consider telling the whole table that you are hard of hearing and that you would appreciate if they could be mindful of it when they talk around the table.  See attached TIPS FOR HEARING PEOPLE which you can place on the dinning room table.


  1. Try to practice your ASSERTIVE SKILLS.  Being assertive when you are hard of hearing simply means obtaining the communication accommodations that you need to communicate successfully.  Do not be aggressive, but learn how to politely ask for what you need and do not hesitate to do so. 


  1.  Last but not least, remember that HUMOR always goes a lonnnnnng way!


I wish you all a happy holidays!  May the festivities be accommodating and fun!


Learn more about Valerie Stern here