Eating out is a great way to enjoy time with the people you love and experience a wonderful meal. But if you have hearing loss, you might find yourself easily overwhelmed by the amount of noise in a restaurant.
So many factors come into play: the kitchen, the other guests, the background music. How are you supposed to enjoy a nice meal when you know you won’t be able to hear the conversation at your own table?
Don’t let this predicament stress you out. It’s true–restaurants can be a hub for noise. Young people don’t mind it much, and depending on what city you’re in, a loud restaurant could simply be the norm. Hearing loss can make it hard to dine out and enjoy the people you’re with.
We can help. Let’s look at a few ways to make your dining experience more enjoyable.
1. Do your research and choose a restaurant that meets your needs.
Did you know that you can use the internet to research the noise levels at certain restaurants? The information isn’t always guaranteed, but if you visit the website Yelp and search for the restaurant you’re hoping to visit, a review of the noise level is usually provided. This will give you an idea of what to expect.
This is an especially helpful tool if you’re visiting a new city. Before going to a new restaurant, you can research the noise level and choose what will work best for you.
Researching beforehand can eliminate your frustration, and prevent you from feeling disappointed.
2. Once you’ve picked your restaurant, let the host/hostess know what kind of table you’d like to sit at.
When you’re going out to eat, you want to enjoy the experience. Hearing loss, however, can make that more difficult. We encourage you to speak up! By voicing what you need, you can have a more comfortable experience at a table that allows you to hear those you’re with.
Whether you’re planning ahead with a reservation or asking the host or hostess for a table, ask for a booth. The higher bench seats will block out some of the environmental noise, making it easier for you to filter out the conversation right in front of you. When you sit down, choose to sit with your back to the noise. This allows your hearing aids to catch the conversation right in front of you, keeping the extra noises out of range.
You should also try to avoid a table that is near the kitchen. With all the foot traffic and noise, you’re better off sitting somewhere else.
3. Be honest with the people you’re dining with.
Hearing loss shouldn’t make you feel embarrassed. About 48 million Americans have some form of it, so you’re not alone!
If you’re dining out with friends, family, or coworkers, it is helpful to ask them to speak up or mention that you have hearing aids. It makes it easier to enjoy your meal and the company of those you’re with.
Don’t be afraid to let them know where you’d like to sit so you can be part of the conversation. Give them an idea of the type of restaurant you’d prefer to go to that isn’t too loud, and speak up if you know the place you’re going will make you feel like the odd one out.
4. Go out to eat at an earlier time.
A typical restaurant experiences a dinner rush around 6 PM. This means more people and more noise.
By going to a restaurant before the dinner rush, you avoid the hassle of a full restaurant. Not only will you be guaranteed a table, but you’ll also be able to hear those around you with ease.
If going out to eat at an earlier time isn’t possible, don’t worry. The steps we already listed can make it possible for you to enjoy yourself. Do what you can to plan ahead, and eating a restaurant will be an enjoyable experience.
Eating out doesn’t have to intimidate you! Using these tips, you can enjoy your meal, hear what’s happening around you, and avoid feeling overwhelmed.