The holidays are upon us, and big family gatherings and dinners in crowded restaurants can prove especially tough for people with hearing loss. Not only do multiple people tend to talk at once in these situations, but they also elevate 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 challenging for individuals with hearing loss to enjoy themselves. If you have trouble hearing from one or both ears, or you use a hearing aid, there are several steps you can take to make these big, noisy meals more enjoyable for you and your family.
Before Gatherings, Have a Talk With Your Family
It is important that you talk about your hearing loss with your family before a big meal, so they can make adjustments to help you cope with the background noise. Your family can then do the things that will make communicating smoother like looking at you when they talk. It will make the meal much more enjoyable for everybody even if the conversation is a bit awkward.
When You Sit at The Table, Pick a Spot Near The Center
Family tradition may stipulate 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 make out conversations. If you are in the middle of the table, you probably will not have to struggle as much to hear what people are saying. Be certain you speak up and tell your family if there is a place at the table that’s best for you.
Ask That The Music be Turned Down
Having hearing loss makes it difficult to filter out background noise and focus on conversation which makes it an especially challenging problem. If you are at a family gathering, ask that the music is turned off or set at a very low volume. At restaurants, ask to be seated away from the kitchen and the speakers.
Technology Can Help
If you don’t already have them, consider purchasing directional microphones or an FM system. Voices you want to hear are amplified and you can isolate background noise by turning away from it with these technologies.
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 stop you from joining in on the fun. If there are adjustments needed mid-meal, your loved ones will be happy to give you a hand.