Dining out with hearing loss - 5 tips to improve your experience

Do you believe that restaurants have gotten louder over the years? They actually have! According to insiders from the industry, restaurants intentionally create a louder environment for many reasons. The reasons vary from trying to make a “fun” atmosphere to actually altering the atmosphere to encourage people not to linger, increasing table turnover and profit.

Trying to have a conversation in a loud restaurant is difficult even for someone without hearing loss. But the challenges are much more difficult for individuals with hearing loss.

Five tips to improve hearing and understanding in a noisy restaurant

  1. Carefully choose your restaurant: It would be wise to consider more than the food when choosing a restaurant. The trendy modern decor of that new restaurant may be beautiful, but the hard surfaces and high ceilings can reverberate sound immensely. Think about the last time you attended a basketball game or were at a racquetball court. The echo and reverberation levels are higher and make it more difficult for hearing speech. Also consider lighting - a well lit area lets you see non-verbal cues much easier, such as facial expressions, hand gestures and body language that are very important in understanding others. Restaurants that are dimly lit can cause you to miss these signs.
  2. Pick a booth, not a table: High backs on the booths will block some of the environmental sounds that can drown out your conversation. Also, booth seats are typically made of softer material that will dampen noise. When seated at a table, you don’t have the same benefits. There are no obstacles for blocking sounds of the restaurant that can alter your hearing. Overall, booths will be less noisy and more comfortable for individuals with hearing loss.
  3. Sit along the perimeter of the room: Ever wanted to have a face to face conversation with someone in a big crowd, so you moved to a quieter area to talk? The same applies in a restaurant. Seats on the perimeter or walls of the dining area are naturally quieter. That area doesn’t have sounds coming from all sides, therefore making it easier to tune out sounds and concentrate on just the talking at your table.
  4. Don’t take a seat near the kitchen area: Kitchens that are open to the restaurant are becoming much more popular recently. It’s a nice ambiance for a restaurant, but the kitchen is the loudest place in the building usually. Ask for a booth as far from the kitchen as possible so you won’t be yelling during your meal!
  5. Sit facing away from the noise/room if you wear hearing aids: The majority of today’s hearing aids have directional microphone technology which helps you hear more clearly when background noise is present. Most directional system hearing aids are made so you can better hear the person you’re facing, therefore reducing noise behind you and amplifying the sound in front of you. It’s also more helpful to have your dining partner sit with their back to a wall, so their voice is the only sound coming from in front of you, minimizing the amplified sound coming in front of you. These small changes in your dining out experience will make a huge difference and maximize your hearing aid features.

There is also hearing aid technology and accessories available on the market today that can assist and enhance your experience in difficult listening situations. If you wear Livio Edge AI, Livio AI or Livio hearing aids, you can create a custom memory setting for the restaurant.

Our new Livio Edge AI hearing aids feature a technology called Edge Mode. With just a tap on the hearing aid, you can enable Edge Mode and get instantaneous adjustments for the most challenging listening situations. In an excessively noisy restaurant, you’ll be able to hear speech even more comfortably while suppressing unwanted background noise.

The latest accessory in our lineup of wireless accessories is the Table Microphone which can also be used to aid in  noisy, group settings such as these. Simply place it in the center of a table and using eight built-in microphones, it will stream the primary speaker's voice directly to your hearing aids.

Regardless of whether it’s for a special occasion or just an average Tuesday night, we all want to enjoy the experience when we dine out. Use these tips to help ease your communication and enjoy your meal. 

And if you want to know how loud your favourite restaurant really is, download our SoundCheck app (available on Apple App Store and Google Play)! SoundCheck is a free hearing screener and sound level meter application that allows users to measure the surrounding environmental noise level and to quickly evaluate their own hearing to determine if it is within a normal range. You can then save your results to discuss with your hearing professional.

To find a hearing healthcare provider in your area, call 1-855-970-2990 or click here.

By Starkey Canada