Despite advances in digital hearing aid technology, even with the latest digital noise reduction circuitry, background noise continues to be a problem. Depicted below are some strategies that you can utilize to improve your ability to hear in background noise:
Plan ahead by picking a quieter restaurant. For example, unless you’re content to read the captioning on the televisions, avoid sports bars. Try to find carpeted restaurants that have chairs with rollers on the legs (thus preventing an annoying scraping sound when they are moved), plants and sound absorbent materials on the tables and on the walls.
Make reservations ahead of time and ask for accommodations.
Go to your favorite restaurants so that you already know their specialties and options, such as choices of salad dressings or side dishes.
Pick the best day and time (not Friday nights) to dine out.
Look on the restaurant’s Web site to preview the menu.
Choose to dine with a smaller number of dining partners.
Pick a table in the least noisy part of the restaurant (i.e. away for the kitchen, bar, wait service stations, etc.).
Ask for seating in a well lit area.
Remember that even people with normal hearing experience greater difficulty in a noisy listening environment than they do in a quiet listening environment. So, do not expect to do as well with your hearing aids in a noisy restaurant as you do in the quiet of your home.
Sit with your back to the window so that lighting is on the speaker’s face, not in your eyes.
Request that staff turn down background music. (You are probably not the only patron bothered by the volume of the music.)
Tell the host/hostess and waiter/waitress, as well as your dining companions, that you have a hearing loss and that it will help you if they slow down a bit, speak a little bit louder and face you directly.
When possible, indicate choices before you are asked. Example: “I would like a salad with Italian dressing,” or “I would like a burger, or fries.”
Ask the waiter/waitress for a printed list of the specials of the day.
Use a directional microphone and/or FM system. If your hearing aids are set to directional, be sure to sit with your back to the main noise source.
If restaurant dining is for business, request another place to meet.
Relax/breathe and enjoy the fine food and company, even if you do not catch every word.
Please keep in mind that these possible solutions should improve your ability to hear and understand in noisy environments. Hopefully, these suggestions may assist you in enjoying your dining experience with friends, attending parities, participating in religious services and conversing with relatives at family dinners.
Dr. Izzy and his staff are always available to answer your questions about hearing care. Feel free to visit our website at www.gardenstatehearing.com