How to hear your best at dinner parties
For many people with hearing loss, the holidays can be especially challenging. While large family gatherings offer a great chance to catch up with friends and family, holiday parties can lead to challenging listening situations for you if you have a hearing loss.
Living with a hearing loss
If you have hearing aids, it’s important that you wear them to holiday events. You may think that with so much noise at a party or family dinner, hearing aids would just make things louder, but modern digital hearing aids aren’t simple sound amplifiers. They are designed to filter out unwanted noise – like the clanging of dishes in the kitchen or the background music – and help you focus on speech.
Here are some tips for people with hearing loss to better enjoy their holiday gatherings:
Room for all – the sound environment
The sound environment has a great impact for people with hearing loss. Some of the hearing aid features are particularly put to work in crowds:
- The Speech Enhancer – Most modern hearing aids reduce noise by using a speech enhancer. This technology works to reduce background noise and helps you focus on what you need to hear. And the True Input Technology in the hearing aids helps cutback on distortion in close collaboration with the directional microphones. More about this later.
- Find a quiet corner – Stand away from loudspeakers and noisy kitchens and position yourself in the quietest area of the room. This way you can hear conversation rather than noise
- Position yourself so you can see as many faces as possible, for instance at the end of the table. Also ensure that background noise comes from behind, so your directional microphone works on what you need it to hear: the speech in front of you
- Buddy up – Find a friend or relative with whom you can hang out at the party. This person can help you to feel more included in the conversation and can repeat things you may not understand.
Turn down the volume and enhance the sound quality
Background noise makes it harder to hear, especially when there are a lot of happy conversations and the sound of cutlery rattling against china. When the noise increases, we all talk louder, and this will quickly escalate. That is a challenge for people with a hearing loss.
- Turn down the volume of background music so the general sound level is as low as possible. Everyone loves a good Christmas carol, but when those carols are in the background of many people’s conversations, no one can hear them anyway.
- Dish Duty – Hold off on cleaning the dishes until everyone has left. For people with hearing loss, the clatter of kitchen dishes can distract from dinnertime conversation.
- Turn off the TV or have it in another room.
Let the eyes help the ears
When looking at other people’s faces when they talk, we can better lip-read and look at gestures. Most hearing aids are directional, so wearers struggle to hear something they are not looking at.
- Directional microphones – Directional microphones work to reduce the amount of background noise allowed to enter your hearing aids. In noisy environments, like at a holiday party, the system will work to pick up the least amount of noise. If the noise is located behind you, your directional microphones will adapt to pick up sound from in front of you and dampen the noise from behind you, which leads to improved speech understanding.
- Ensure good lighting, so that you can see your friends’ and families’ faces.
- Remove candles and decorations from the table to make sure you can see everyone.
Help others help you
If you have a hearing loss, you might know that people around you don’t always know how to help you in the best way. Therefore, it’s important that you draw their attention to it and ask for help. Think about it: your host has cooked dinner and arranged everything in the hope of a pleasant and successful evening. Wouldn’t it be nice to help them by telling them your needs, so that you all succeed and have a nice party?