The holidays are near, and large holiday gatherings and dinners in crowded restaurants can be especially challenging for people with hearing loss. Not only do multiple people tend to talk at once during gatherings, but they also elevate their voices to be heard over one another. Combine that with the clattering of dishes, scraping of chairs, and music, and you have a situation in which it is difficult for people with hearing loss to enjoy themselves.
If you experience challenges with hearing in one or both ears or use a hearing aid, there are steps you can take to improve your enjoyment of bustling family gatherings.
Discuss your hearing loss
It is important to talk about your hearing loss with your loved ones so they can make accommodations to help you deal with the background noise. They can explain it to their children and others, so they know, for example, to try and face you when they are speaking. This could seem like an uncomfortable discussion to have, but this will help make your gathering, (and future gatherings) more enjoyable for everyone.
Be seated in the middle
Family tradition may say that you sit at the head of the table during big meals, but this placement makes it more difficult for you to make out conversations. By sitting in the middle of the table, you will not have to strain as much to hear.
Turn down the background music
Background noise is a significant problem for people with hearing loss, as it is hard for their ears to process out this noise and focus on spoken words. If you are at a family gathering, 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 noisy spots, such as close to the kitchen, where you can hear the clattering of pots and pans.
Consider a new device
If you don’t already have them, consider investing in directional microphones or an FM system. Both of these technologies can help you isolate background noise by facing away from it and amplify the voices you need to hear to understand a conversation.
Don’t try to fake it
Your loved ones will only know if you are struggling through a meal if you tell them. A family get-together is an occasion for joy, and your hearing impairment should never hinder your participation in the festivities. If there are modifications you need to make during the meal, your loved ones will be happy to assist.