Going out to dinner with friends and loved ones is an enjoyable social experience. But for those with hearing loss, a casual get-together can be stressful. Follow the steps outlined below to ensure your next dinner out will be free of frustration for you and your guests.
Select the Right Restaurant
Picking a quiet place to eat is key. Unfortunately, many have excessive background noise and tables that are too close together, creating an atmosphere where it is nearly impossible to have a conversation. Try asking friends for recommendations and reading online reviews. Many review platforms now include loudness ratings. Crowdsourcing apps with decibel measurements are available on your smartphone, such as SoundPrint and iHearU.
While researching, make sure to look at pictures of the decor. Places with classic designs featuring carpet, drapes, cushioned seats and table cloths are typically quieter, as the fabric helps absorb sound. Trendy restaurants often feature hardwood floors, mirrors and metal surfaces that reflect the noise, making sounds louder.
Select the Right Table
When making a reservation, let them know you wear hearing aids, and ask to be seated at a quiet table. One in a corner or beside a wall is best as the wall provides a barrier between you and the restaurant noise. You’ll also want your table to be far away from the kitchen.
A round table makes group conversations easier, as people are positioned to face you while they speak. Their voices are projected toward the center of the table and their faces are visible, which helps with lip reading.
Don’t be afraid to ask to be moved if you are seated at a table that does not meet your requirements.
Select the Right Time
Even the quietest restaurant can be loud during its busy times. Eating on the other side of the lunch and dinner rushes gives you the best chances of having a conversation you can actually hear.
If you are one of only a few guests, the staff may be more willing to turn down the house music upon request.
Select the Right Guests
Going out to eat with a large group is difficult. Try limiting your guest lists to less than six. If you do find yourself out with a large group, focus on having conversations with those seated around you, rather than someone on the other side of the table.
When choosing a seat, opt for one in the center of the group, with those you have the hardest time hearing, like women and children, directly across from you. If you cannot hear a conversation you need to be a part of, don’t be shy about asking to change seats.
There is a growing number of assistive listening devices that pair with your hearing aid to help amplify speech in difficult listening environments. Cellphone apps like speech-to-text are also beneficial in this situation.
Contact your Burbank Audiology hearing specialist to learn more about overcoming listening challenges and enjoying your time out with friends and family.