The holidays are upon us, and large family gatherings and meals in crowded restaurants can prove especially difficult for people with hearing loss. Not only do several people often talk at once in these settings, but they also elevate their voices to be heard over one another.
Combine that with the clattering of dishes, scraping of chairs, and background music, and you have a scenario in which it is difficult for individuals with hearing loss to enjoy themselves. 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.
Before Gatherings, Have a Talk With Your Family
It is essential that you talk about your hearing loss with your family before a big meal, so they can make adjustments to help you deal with the background noise. They can then discuss it with their children and other family members, so people know, for instance, to try and look at you when they are speaking. It might seem like an awkward discussion to have, but it makes the meal much more enjoyable for everybody when you can actively engage.
When You Sit at The Table, Pick a Spot Near The Center
Sometimes, it’s tradition to sit at a certain place at the table, but the best place to sit if you want to have an easier time hearing conversation isn’t at the head or near the end of the table, it’s near the middle. You won’t have as hard of a time hearing conversations from the middle of the table. Be certain you speak up and let your family know if there is a place at the table that’s best for you.
Request a Lower Music Volume
Background noise can be a major problem for people with hearing loss because it is hard for their ears to filter out this noise and focus in on spoken words. 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 possible and away from loud places, such as near the kitchen, where you can hear the clanging of pots and pans.
Look at New Technologies
An FM system or a directional microphone are helpful options if you don’t already have them. Voices you want to hear are amplified and you can isolate background noise by turning away from it with these technologies.
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 tell them. Hearing loss should never prevent you from enjoying the fun of the holidays with your family. If there are adjustments you need to make mid-meal, your family will be happy to give you a hand.