Tips for Eating at Restaurants with Hearing Loss

Public spaces aren’t always the easiest when you’re not hearing comfortably. It’s fairly natural to have the jitters or feel intimidated at thought of eating at restaurants with hearing loss. Loud room, multiple voices all jumbling up together, potentially even some kitchen noises leaking out. It can be a lot.

Most of us can think of a time where we’ve been in a really loud venue and tried to have a conversation. Restaurants, bars, family events, and concerts are all places people with hearing loss have to work harder to hear. It becomes difficult for a listener to tune out the crowd and listening to the person in front of them.

It’s not too hard to see why having hearing loss can make you feel slightly less inclined to leave the house at times.  This doesn’t have to be the case every time though. If you have a friend, spouse, or relative that has difficulty hearing, or if you experience it yourself, there are some easy things you can do that will go a long way. With a couple tips below and a conscious effort to be keep each other’s hearing needs in mind, everyone will be in on the conversation.

Location is key

The number 1, ultimate thing you can do to create a good listening environment is choose the right place. Location is everything. It all depends on what type of night out you’re looking for, but if you want to enjoy some good conversation – keep this in mind. Steer clear of places with speakers and music playing. Eating at restaurants with hearing loss is hard enough on its own, no need to add extra background noise.

Places like sports bars or bigger chain restaurants typically tend to be louder settings. The hole in the wall spots might be your best friend. Maybe fix yourself a little picnic box on a nice day and hit the park. The world is your oyster, just be sure to keep the volume in mind from time to time. The difference is noticeable.

Call ahead

If you are making a reservation at a restaurant, be sure to let them know ahead of time that you would prefer a table in a quieter section of the restaurant if possible.

An ideal spot is somewhere away from the kitchen or the server stations. These are spots where there is usually a good amount of background chatter.

When you arrive at the restaurant, if the background music is too loud, be sure to let the host know, they may be able to turn it down.

Good lighting makes better conversation

For those that have a severe or profound hearing loss, the ability to see someone’s lips mouthing along is a much appreciated help. When you are eating at restaurants with hearing loss, it can sometimes turn into a combination of using context clues and lip reading to piece together certain words. If you’re going out with a friend or loved one that is hard of hearing, take the seat in the light if possible. Don’t make any mention of it, just do it naturally. It’ll be appreciated subtly and make the conversation easier.

Save a seat

If you’re having dinner with a group, make sure your friend or relative with hearing loss has a seat near the middle of the table so he or she can hear and see everyone well. This will assist with making sure conversations can be understood better, rather than trying to listen and speak from across the table

Consider your sound environment.Parties and other gatherings can be tough for people with hearing loss. Group conversations can make hearing especially difficult, and those with hearing loss can wind up feeling isolated rather than included. Try to avoid overly noisy settings like clubs or crowded bars in favor of a quieter, more intimate location.

Adjust the settings on your hearing aids

Many of the premium hearing aids being developed today have adjustable settings that you can fine-tune to your liking. Some models even have location-based preset modes for specific sound environments like the movie theater, restaurant or while running.

The most common way to adjust your hearing aids’ settings is through the rocker switch typically on the back of the device. Another user-friendly option is through a mobile phone application for the devices that are able to be paired with one. If you ask your audiologist, they will recommend the brands that have compatibility with mobile phone pairing. You can also ask if they have any personal suggestions for eating at restaurants with hearing loss. They may have some trade secrets, or can possibly suggest a device that works best for those settings.