With the big day less than two weeks away — and if you have to ask “what big day?” then the situation is especially dire for you — we hope you have finished your holiday shopping (or at least made a significant dent in it). If you are one of the thousands of people with hearing loss in San Diego, you may be dreading a trip to the mall. Don’t worry; we’ve got some tips to help make your shopping experience more jolly.
Plan Ahead to Make Your Trip Hassle-Free
Let’s face it, even under the best of circumstances, a shopping trip this time of year can be stressful. You’ve got crowded parking lots, wall-to-wall shoppers, ornery cashiers and ever-present background noise to deal with. The only thing worse than hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is hearing a muzak version of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” It’s no wonder you’ve been putting off that trip to the store!
But with a little advance planning, your shopping trip won’t be as bad as you fear. Your San Diego audiologist offers the following tips to shoppers with hearing loss.
Tips for Shoppers With Hearing Loss
- Support small businesses. Bigger isn’t always better; when it comes to shopping, think small. Supporting mom-and-pop businesses won’t only provide a boost to the local economy, but it’s less stressful if you’re shopping with hearing loss. Big box retailers often have screaming deals, but they may be accompanied by screaming kids – whom you won’t be able to escape thanks to store layouts with open spaces that favor poor acoustics. Plus, larger stores attract more people, which only increases your stress and discomfort. Smaller, locally owned stores tend to be less crowded…and easier on your ears.
- Utilize hearing loops. If you wear hearing aids, switch the telecoil setting on to take advantage of loop induction systems found in many large public places, including department stores and shopping malls. Hearing loops broadcast clear sound free of distraction directly to your hearing aids, eliminating background noise. Most stores with loop systems will display the international symbol of access for hearing loss (an ear bisected by a diagonal line), usually in the window or door. If you don’t see a sign, ask a clerk or store manager if there is a loop system available.
- Use a streaming device. Portable streaming devices improve the efficiency of your hearing aids by increasing their battery life and eliminating the need for a receiver, making them more lightweight. When you’ve got a full day’s worth of shopping to do, every ounce counts! Streamers help prevent you from getting too tired and eliminate distracting background noise, allowing you to hear more clearly.
- Plan your trip in advance. Before you leave home, come up with a game plan. Map out the stores on your list in advance so you can get in and out as quickly as possible. It also helps to study the store layout, so you’ll know exactly where to go once you get there. This eliminates any conversation difficulties with store clerks when asking for help. Bring along a friend or family member to assist with communication and keep you informed of store announcements. Bribing them with a treat from the food court often helps. Make sure your hearing aid batteries are fully charged before heading out and bring along extras just in case.
- Shop online. If the idea of heading out to a busy store to shop is simply too overwhelming, save yourself the hassle by shopping from the comfort of your own home. Online retailers like Amazon carry virtually everything you could possibly want and prices are usually competitive. You won’t have to battle for that last parking spot or jostle your way through noisy crowds. And you can’t beat the convenience of having items delivered directly to your front door!