Holiday shopping is notoriously loud and over-the-top, and though it can be fun to be part of the excitement, it does pose unique challenges to people with hearing loss. The crowds and noise can be overwhelming for someone dealing with impaired hearing, but there are things you can do to make it a fun part of your holiday season.
Stay Away From Big Box Stores
With their high ceilings and poor acoustics, big box stores are difficult places to navigate even on slowshopping days. When the store is crowded with people it can lead to frustration and exhaustion for someone with hearing loss. Skip the big box stores in favor of smaller, family-owned stores, museum shops and craft fairs. Fewer shoppers and less noise make these stores easier to handle. And as a bonus, you’ll be supporting small businesses in your local community.
Plan Your Shopping Trip
Before you set out into the madness of holiday shopping, a little preparation can go a long way.
- Call the store ahead of time to see if they have a loop system for hearing devices, or someone on staff that can help you while you’re there.
- Make a list of what you want before you set out for the store. In the noise and fuss, your list will keep you focused on why you’re there.
- Try to visit the store ahead of time to get the lay of the land. That way, you don’t have to rely on a store employee to show you where things are when you go shopping.
- Take a friend or family member shopping with you. They can tell you about store announcements and price adjustments that you may miss.
In The Store
- Be your own advocate. Let the staff at the store know you have hearing loss, so they can offer their help when you need it, and they can let you know if there are services available for you, such as a loop system.
- Take a break when you need to. Holiday shopping is stressful even if you don’t have a hearing impairment. Grab some lunch or a latte with a friend to break up your day and catch your breath.
- When you’re asking questions, keep them close-ended. Questions like, “Does this come in red?” will give you an easier answer than “What other colors are available?”
Tips For Hearing Aid Wearers
If you wear hearing aids, there are specific things you can do to maximize your enjoyment while holiday shopping:
- Make sure your hearing aid batteries are fully charged before you leave home, and take an extra set of batteries with you just in case.
- Look for a sign on the door for a loop induction system for hearing aid users. If you don’t see one, ask a staff member.
- If it’s cold outside, make sure you wear earmuffs or a scarf over your ears when you’re in the parking lot or walking between stores. This doesn’t just keep the wind, rain and snow out of your ears, but will prevent the cold from shortening the battery life of your hearing aids.
- See your audiologist to get your hearing aids cleaned and tuned up, to enjoy all the sounds of the holiday season.
Whether you’re going to brave the crowds leading up to Christmas or on Boxing Day, use these tips to help make your holiday shopping experience easy and enjoyable.