Hearing Loss and Restaurant Meals

What is your latest memory of a meal at a restaurant? Do you recall the food you ate, or does your mind drift to the difficulty you had carrying on a conversation? For too many people with hearing loss, a restaurant is a worst-case scenario for communication. Not only is the room full of people talking at the same time, but many restaurants also play background music to set the mood. When tables are placed close to one another, you might even hear others’ voices as loudly as those in your own group. A server might come to you with a list of questions that make it difficult to understand what options you have for your meal. With these difficult situations in mind, you can see that hearing loss can ruin even the best food in a restaurant meal. What can you do to improve this situation? There are a few helpful tips that can make your meal more enjoyable and to reduce the stress of trying to communicate at a restaurant.

Inform the Staff 

When you call to make a reservation, don’t hesitate to let your host or hostess know that you have hearing loss. This person can be your advocate in having the best meal possible. You can ask if there is a table in a quieter location than others. Each restaurant is different in this regard, and your host or hostess will know if the quietest seat is furthest from the kitchen, nestled behind a corner, or away from the noise of traffic outside. Your host or hostess can also inform your server about your hearing needs, making it possible to have better conversations during your meal.  

Inform your Table 

Not only can it be helpful to inform the staff at the restaurant, but you also might want to inform the others at your table about your hearing needs. Your group can help you navigate to the center of the table, a place where it is easier to hear others in the group. The others at your table can also help as an audible relay between ends of the table. If someone at the far end asks a question, you can rely on the assistance of the person sitting right beside you to pass along that question. Although this process might seem clunky, it is often the best approach to communication with those at your table in a very noisy room. When your server comes to take your order, you can also recruit assistance from the person sitting beside you. By asking that person to order for you, any back-and-forth will be resolved, particularly when the server is standing far away from you.

Making the Most of Your Meal 

Connecting with others at your table is much of what makes a meal at a restaurant enjoyable. Although the food might be delicious, a stressful conversation can ruin your appetite. If you find that background music is too loud to be able to converse, you can ask the staff to turn it down a bit or to find a place for you to sit away from the speakers. You might want to sit at a round table rather than an oblong one, making it possible to see facial expressions and even to read lips of people across the group. Don’t hesitate to ask for the assistance you need. Although some requests for accommodations can’t be met, you might be surprised how many of these can be resolved by the wait staff and your own group at the restaurant.  

Getting Hearing Aids 

These helpful tips can only go so far toward improving your experience at a restaurant. Although you might be able to hear better in some situations, some restaurants are so loud that you will still have trouble hearing. The only durable solution for hearing loss is to get treatment from a hearing health professional. We begin your process of seeking assistance with a hearing test, letting us know exactly what sounds are most difficult for you to hear. With this diagnostic report in hand, we can pair you with the right hearing aids for your individual needs. Why not schedule a hearing test before your next restaurant reservation?