Whether you’re attending a formal celebration or an impromptu get-together, social events are an opportunity to share good times with family and friends. But what if hearing loss makes it difficult for you to join in the fun?
Noisy social gatherings where many people are speaking can be especially challenging when you have hearing loss. Add in background music or restaurant clatter and you’ve created a listening situation that is difficult even for people with normal hearing.
A little planning can help you socialize more, with less effort in any number of social situations.
Choose your spot
If you’re dining out, select a restaurant with details that minimize background noise. Look for carpeting, cork or acoustic ceiling tiles, curtains, table clothes, seat cushions and other noise-absorbing features. Request a corner table or a quiet spot away from the kitchen.
At parties, stand away from the center of the room and the source of music. Position your back to a wall or soft furnishings, such as curtains, to block distracting sounds. Corners create a good barrier to noise on several sides. Even in a lively party setting, you can find a quiet spot and invite one-on-one conversation.
Pick the best seat at the table
Select a seat that lets you see as many faces as possible. That way, you’ll be able to see their lips while people are speaking. Avoid candle light. Choose brighter lighting that lets you more easily pick up visual cues. Sometimes the best seat is the one beside a friend or loved one who can help fill you in on parts of the conversation you may miss.
Don’t shy away from telling guests that you have a hearing loss and noisy situations can be difficult for you. It’s tempting to nod and pretend you hear but people are usually happy to accommodate. Let people know you’ve missing some of the conversation with simple visual cues like placing your hand to your ear. You won’t disrupt the flow of conversations but you will be signaling to the speaker to speak up or slow down.
Wear your hearing aids
This is an obvious strategy for hearing better in social settings and one of the best. The newest hearing aid technology gives you access to all sounds in the environment. You can hear what you want to hear, even in the situations with multiple people speaking. Try out different hearing aid settings in advance to see which setting is best in noisy environments. You may also want to consider the extra help of a discreet clip-on microphone.
Relax and enjoy
Be easy on yourself. Take short breaks to give your brain a rest and re-energize when you feel fatigue setting in. If conversation at the table is challenging, talk to people nearest you. If a group is too noisy or fast-paced, find a smaller and quieter group to join. Social events are for your enjoyment – not a test of your stamina.
Follow this easy checklist to help you get the most out of social gatherings:
- Find a quiet corner away from the noise, the music and the chatter.
- Position yourself so you can see faces.
- Let people know you may have difficulty hearing.
- Give them a signal when you need a little help.
- Wear your hearing aids faithfully.
- Smile and enjoy the fun.
How to support a loved one with hearing loss:
- Get their attention before you speak. Gently touch their arm or hand or say their name.
- Face them directly. Seeing your mouth and facial cues makes it easier to follow the conversation. Gestures also help.
- Speak naturally and clearly but don’t shout. Avoid speaking too quickly. Pause briefly between sentences. Be sure you’ve been understood before going on.
- Repeat if they don’t hear something. Restate what you said using different words – it may be a difficult word or sound that they missed.
- Stay attentive. Watch for puzzled expressions so you can bring them back into the conversation if they’re having trouble.
- Be patient and respectful. You’ll build their confidence and make the exchange more enjoyable for all.
Don’t let hearing loss keep you from enjoying the people and things you love. Locate your hearing care expert here and schedule an appointment today.