Hearing loss & eating out
Eating out at restaurants with family and friends can be a challenging experience if you have a hearing loss. But don’t let that put you off. With a few simple tips you can ensure your meal is a relaxed and enjoyable affair.
Before you leave
Remember to put new new batteries into your hearing aids before you leave for the restaurant, or at the very least be sure to have a spare set of batteries with you. No need to worry about being left out of things just because the batteries die.
Choosing a restaurant
When it comes to choosing where to eat, if you can, choose a restaurant where things are good for you. Tablecloths for example, will help deaden background noise somewhat. Eating earlier in the evening may be a quieter experience than later, when the noisy crowds arrive. A well lit establishment is also preferable, whether windows with plenty of natural light or electric lighting. Candlelight may be atmospheric but it doesn’t make for easy lipreading.
Once you get there
Try to get there early as this will give you the opportunity to choose the seating that is best for you. Consider asking for a table in the quieter area, in a corner spot, away from a busy kitchen, with your back to a wall, allowing you to see the faces of your dinner companions. A round table allows good visibility for everyone. Avoid sitting where you are facing a bright light. If there is background music playing, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be turned down or even off altogether.
Remember, it is a good idea to explain why you need these changes, both to the restaurant staff as well as your dining companions. Most will be very understanding and happy to do what they can to help. Take the opportunity to teach family and friends good communication techniques. Staff at the restaurant will learn to be more aware when it comes to other hearing impaired customers.
If you have the means, investing in a personal listeners and FM systems can be big help in these kinds of scenarios. Placing the microphone component in the middle of the table enables you to hear everyone and reduce any background noise. Alternatively, you can place the microphone on or near the person you wish to speak with and focus on their voice.
Lipreading while eating isn’t easy, nor is lipreading someone who is eating! So consider that perhaps it best to save the talking to in between courses. After all, most of us were taught that it was rude to talk while eating anyway. Having a hearing loss does not mean not having a social life. All it takes is a few simple changes and accommodations as outlined above. Good luck!