For people who have hearing loss, family dinners and gatherings can be a challenge. Not only do several people often talk at once in these settings, but they also elevate their voices to be heard over each other.
Combine that with the clanging of dishes, scraping of chairs, and background music, and you have a situation in which it is difficult for individuals with hearing loss to have a good time. If you have difficulty 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.
Talk to Your Loved Ones First
It is important that you discuss your hearing loss with your family before a big meal, so they can make adjustments to help you cope with the background noise. They can then explain it to their children and other family members, so people know, for instance, to try and look at you when they are talking. It will make the meal a lot more enjoyable for everybody even if the conversation is a bit uncomfortable.
When You Sit at The Table, Pick a Spot Near The Center
Family tradition might stipulate that you sit at the head or near the end of the table during big meals, but those spots make it harder for you to make out conversations. If you are in the middle of the table, you likely will not have to struggle as much to hear what people are saying. Be certain you speak up and let your family know if there is a spot at the table that’s best for you.
Ask That The Music be Turned Down
Background noise poses a considerable challenge for people with hearing loss because it is hard for their ears to filter out this noise and focus in on speech. Ask your family to turn the music off or at least lower the volume. If you’re in a restaurant, sit as far away from speakers as possible and away from loud places, like near the kitchen, where you can hear the clattering of pots and pans.
Think About New Technologies
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.
Don’t Attempt to Bluff Your Way Through
The only way your loved ones will know if you are struggling through a meal is if you let them know. A family gathering is a time to celebrate, and your hearing impairment should never prevent you from getting in on the fun. Your family members will be happy to assist you with any adjustments you might need to make during your meal.