Eating at a restaurant is about more than just delicious food. Sharing a meaningful conversation over a delicious plate of food is one of life’s simplest pleasures. It can be difficult to follow and engage when in conversation out dining because people speak in different groups, settings, and tones. A noisy restaurant makes it difficult for normal-hearing persons to follow the conversation but is even more challenging for a person with a hearing loss. Being able to select a restaurant that has both great food and a great listening environment requires a little research and can make the difference between an enjoyable meal and a frustrating experience.
Tips to help you hear better in a restaurant.
Use the four P’s to guide you and your loved ones when choosing a restaurant:
Pick the right restaurant
Choosing the right restaurant requires a little detective work. If it is a first-time visit to the restaurant, look up the restaurant online and read through customer reviews. Take note of reviews mentioning noise or a loud dining environment. Visit the restaurant’s website (if it has one) and browse through pictures of the dining area or visit the restaurant if it is nearby, to take a glance at the dining area.
Restaurants that use curtaining, tablecloths, carpeting, cushioned seats, and tables spaced apart are a good choice as surfaces that are covered with materials help absorb sounds. Ask friends and loved ones for suggestions on restaurants they have visited, and for recommendations for a quieter dining experience.
Pick the right table and timing
When making a reservation, make a request to the host to provide you with a table in a quiet section of the restaurant and ask at which time they are at their busiest. If dining indoors, a table that is away from the entrance, the kitchen, and the bar would work best. Some restaurants may have outdoor or rooftop dining. Outdoor or rooftop dining near a busy street or overlooking a highway would make it difficult to hear because of traffic noise. Look for outdoor dining areas that are alongside quieter streets or that have trees and plants as they help to block out background noise.
Choose a dining area that is well-lit, the light from a window or reflecting surfaces will help you see your partner’s face. It is best to sit across from your partner, with a full view of their face. With a hearing loss, you are reliant on more than just your hearing, you would use facial and lip-reading cues to help you communicate.
Avoid visiting a restaurant during its busiest times. Well-planned seating arrangements and efforts to reduce noise may not be enough if the restaurant is filled with other diners. Visit the restaurant outside of its busiest times as advised by the host. This may generally be during weekdays (Monday to Thursday), and between lunch and dinner times. Do your best to avoid weekends and public holidays if possible.
Prepare in advance
Look up the restaurant’s menu online or request a copy. Being able to read through what is on the menu in advance, will help your decision-making, and reduce the need for your waiter to talk you through the menu. Be certain of who you will be dining out with. Avoid large groups as the conversation would naturally be louder, as everyone talks over each other for hearing better in a restaurant. Instead choose to dine out with two or three people, making the conversation easier to follow.
Practice transparency and make use of technology
As a person with hearing loss, it is important that you practice being confident in sharing that you have hearing loss and that you wear hearing aids to help you hear better. Often, individuals with hearing loss shy away from mentioning their hearing difficulties in public situations due to fear of being judged or being considered as difficult. Being transparent and upfront about your hearing loss ensures that others around you are aware and can improve the way they communicate with you and that you are not robbed of fruitful conversations and interactions.
Educate loved ones
Educate loved ones about how your ability to follow conversation changes between the quiet home environment and a busy restaurant setting. Ask them to speak clearly and at a slower pace, and to clarify what was said. When making a reservation and requesting quieter seating, be sure to tell the hostess you have a hearing loss, and to remind the hostess upon arrival. If the seating offered to you is not suitable, request to be moved.
If you are using a hearing aid, be sure to wear it when dining out. It will help you filter out the speech sounds from sounds in the environment for hearing better in a restaurant. Depending on its settings, you may be able to hear better either with your back facing the noise or your back away from the noise and against a wall for instance. Try out both options and see what works best for you. Don’t be shy to use your hearing aids and accessories such as a clip-on microphone, for your dining companion or smartphone applications to help hearing better in a restaurant.
How the Lexie Lumen can help in a restaurant setting
Improving your ability to hear in noisy settings, is hearing the Lexie way. The Lexie Lumen hearing aid offers more choice when faced with noisy environments. It is designed to improve your ability to follow the conversation, whilst reducing unwanted noise from the environment. The Lexie Lumen hearing aid offers the user complete independence and control of their hearing experience. The hearing aid has a selection of hearing programs for different environments, which are completely customizable on the Lexie App designed for smartphones. You can increase the volume, sound quality, and comfort changes to your hearing aid all from the convenience of your smartphone, wherever you are. The Lexie Lumen can also be connected to a small wireless companion microphone, that can be clipped on to your partner’s clothing, improving your ability to follow a conversation for hearing better in a restaurant.
If you are finding it increasingly difficult to follow a conversation in environments with noise, visit the Lexie Hearing website, and take our online hearing test using any set of headphones or earphones you may have at home. Based on your results, our hearing experts will be able to provide you with advice and recommendations on what your next steps should be.
Selecting hearing loss-friendly restaurants is a process that goes along with adjusting to hearing loss. Accepting the changes to be made to improve your hearing experience may be difficult, so take breaks from the noise if it is too much for you and be patient with yourself. Remember the essence of your dining out experience – good food with great company.