The holidays are upon us, and large family get-togethers and dinners in crowded restaurants can be particularly difficult for people with hearing loss. Not only do several people tend to talk at once in these settings, but they also raise their voices to be heard over each other.
Combine that with the clattering of dishes, scraping of chairs, and background music, and you have a scenario in which it is hard for individuals with hearing loss to enjoy themselves. If you have trouble hearing from one or both ears, or you wear a hearing aid, there are a few steps you can take to make these big, noisy meals more enjoyable for you and your family.
Have a Talk With Your Loved Ones First
It is crucial that you talk about your hearing loss with your family members before a big meal, so they can make adjustments to help you deal with the background noise. Your family can then do the things that will make communicating easier like looking at you when they talk. It will make the meal a lot more enjoyable for everybody even if the conversation is a bit awkward.
When You Sit at The Table, Pick a Spot Near The Middle
Family tradition may dictate that you sit at the head or near the end of the table at big meals, but those spots make it harder for you to hear conversations. If you’re in the middle of the table, you probably won’t have to struggle as much to hear what people are saying. Make sure you speak up and let your family know if there is a place at the table that’s best for you.
Request a Lower Music Volume
Having hearing loss makes it difficult to filter out background noise and focus on speech which makes it a particularly challenging problem. Ask your family to turn the music off or at least lower the volume. At restaurants, try to sit away from the kitchen and the speakers.
Technology Can Help
If you don’t already have them, consider investing in directional microphones or an FM system. Both of these technologies can help you isolate background noise by facing away from it and boosting the voices you want to hear to understand a conversation.
Don’t Try to Bluff Your Way Through
The only way your family will know if you’re struggling through a meal is if you inform them. A family gathering is a time to celebrate, and your hearing impairment should never prevent you from joining in on the fun. If there are adjustments needed mid-meal, your family will be glad to give you a hand.