The holidays are upon us, and big family gatherings and meals in crowded restaurants can be especially tough for people with hearing loss. Not only do multiple people tend to talk at the same time in these situations, 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 difficult for people with hearing loss to enjoy themselves. If you have a hard time 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 essential that you talk about your hearing loss with your family members before a big meal, so they can make adjustments to help you cope with the background noise. They can then discuss it with their children and other family members, so people know, for example, to try and face you when they are speaking. It may seem like an uncomfortable discussion to have, but it makes the meal much more enjoyable for everyone when you can actively participate.
When You Sit at The Table, Pick a Spot Near The Middle
Family tradition might dictate that you sit at the head or near the end of the table at big meals, but those places make it harder for you to make out conversations. If you’re in the middle of the table, you likely won’t have to strain as much to hear what people are saying. If there is a spot at the table you know is best for you, don’t hesitate to tell your loved ones your preference.
Ask That The Music be Turned Down
Having hearing loss makes it hard to filter out background noise and focus on speech which makes it a particularly challenging problem. If you are at a family get-together, ask that the music is turned off or set at a very low background level. If you are in a restaurant, ask to be seated as far away from speakers as you can and away from loud spots, like near the kitchen, where you can hear the clanging of pots and pans.
Technology Can Help
If you don’t already have them, think about investing in directional microphones or an FM system. Both of these technologies can help you isolate background noise by turning away from it and boosting the voices you want to hear to make out a conversation.
Attempting to Bluff Your Way Through Isn’t Good Plan
The only way your loved ones will know if you are struggling through a meal is if you let them know. A family get-together is a time for celebration, and your hearing loss should never stop you from getting in on the fun. Your loved ones will be happy to help you with any adjustments you may need to make during your meal.