Communication tips in time for Crimbo
Christmas is fast approaching and what a wonderful environment to be in, with all the food and festive fun. I wanted to write this post as Christmas can be a little overwhelming for people who struggle with hearing loss, as they are often busy, noisy and distracting.
I hope that you find these simple yet effective tips helpful for these situations and occasions.
Make eye contact:
The first tip is to always gain the listener's attention before they talk, this could be as simple as saying their name before you speak, to tapping them on the shoulder. Once you have their attention, make eye contact, keep your hands away from your face and speak naturally so that you don't change the shape of your lips. It is also worth using hand gestures and thinking about your body language.
We all know that at Christmas the table can be jam-packed with festive food, crackers to candles. These can all be distracting objects for a person with hearing loss from the 'pop' of a cracker to the flicker of the candle. To help emulate any issues it's important that the room is lit well and to put large object and candles at the side of the room instead of in the middle of the table.
Most hearing aids tend to be directional so believe it or not, just looking at the object will help a person hear.
Turn the loud noises off, reduce the volume and improve the sound quality
Background noise makes it hard to hear, especially as there may already be plenty of chitter-chatter, festive music and plates clunking on the table.
Naturally, when the background noise increases, people tend to speak louder, resulting in the noise level rapidly escalating. To help prevent this, you could turn down the music, so people don't have to shout over the top. Ensure any extra noises such as the TV or children's toys are switched off and finally to ensure that you clear the dishes once your guests have left the table. This last tip might seem bizarre as normally it is polite to clear the table once your final guest has finished eating. But waiting until the final conversation has finished will ensure all of your guests feel at home and involved.
Sometimes a parent or grandparent with hearing loss needs a hearing rest.. whether it is a nap or a few minutes of quiet time, we should encourage the entire party to accommodate this and make minimal noise.
Help the people around you:
Whether you are the person suffering from hearing loss or if it a friend or family member. It is important to make sure people are aware... politely must I add.
Ask to sit in a specific spot at the table or ask for the music to be turned down. I know these are simple steps but believe me, they are effective and will make a difference.
Educate your children:
Often as our children grow, there is much we can teach them about hearing loss. Besides facing the person they are talking to, kids should be educated about good speech habits, such as pronouncing words correctly, speaking slowly, and standing no more than a few feet away when talking to an adult with hearing loss.
If you are in the car try to encourage them to ask/answer questions once the car has stopped or at a point where it is less noisy.
My final tip for the day is if you are looking for a nice family fun game to play with someone with hearing loss, I would suggest Charades or if you have children, one similar to Peek-a-boo or hide and seak.