What does dinner time look like to you? Is it your family crowded around a tiny kitchen table passing food from person to person? Or is it more often a meet up with friends at a trendy restaurant (hopefully outside during COVID-19)? No matter what the meal looks like, it can be hard to enjoy yourself and your company if you have hearing loss. Here are some tips and tricks for having the best dining experience:

Wear your hearing aids

Sometimes admitting you have hearing loss can be a big step, and purchasing devices is an even bigger one. But, the good news is, the earlier you treat hearing loss the better. You can elongate your life, have better relationships, and enjoy dining with others! Most hearing aids have settings specific to restaurants which allow you to tune into conversations and tune out background noise. Some Bluetooth hearing aids can even tap into hearing induction loops which are available at public places such as museums, large venues, and you guessed it, restaurants which amplify or broadcast certain sounds.

Position yourself well

If you know that your daughter’s voice is the hardest for you to hear, but your husband practically shouts, make sure to sit directly across from her. By sitting face to face, you can better lip read, and her voice doesn’t have to travel as far to reach your ears. While you don’t need to hear every word spoken, don’t be afraid to ask others to speak up.

Pick a hearing-friendly setting

If you are in a restaurant, request a booth or more secluded table where you can see your companions. Bar seating or tables that only have one side for seats are the worst for the hearing impaired since no one can face each other. Additionally, the fabric from booths or nearby curtains can muffle loud music, clanging dishes, and general noise, so avoid restaurants with a stark, hard atmosphere. Better yet, dine in your own home so you have more control over ambient noise.

Sit near a friend

Going to a dinner party where you may not know anyone can be overwhelming for almost anyone, but for those with hearing loss, it can be especially scary. If you are invited to a dinner, see if you can bring a plus one who can be your hearing buddy. Sometimes you may not feel comfortable telling everyone at the table you have trouble hearing, so having a companion who can speak up for you and repeat words can make all the difference.

Utilize the pointing method

Sometimes hand signals can be the best way to communicate. Point to the menu to let a waiter know which dish you want to order. Point to your ears to let others at the table know you can’t hear them and perhaps they can repeat what they just said. Point to the bathroom to let others know you are getting up from the table. After all, you might not be the only one having trouble hearing. Using signals helps the entire group stay on the same page.

With these tips, hopefully dining at home, at a friend’s home, or in a restaurant can be that much more fun and fulfilling!

By: Diana Ford


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