Does it seem that over the year’s restaurants have been getting louder and louder? In our recent survey 72% of our respondents said they feel the background noise has gotten louder in restaurants and cafes, over the past 5 years.
Having a conversation in a noisy restaurant can be difficult at the best of times, and the challenges are greater for those with hearing loss.
Here are five tips to make hearing and holding a conversation in a noisy environment easier.
1. Do your research
Before choosing your next dining out spot, check out the online reviews. Opinions from previous diners can not only inform you of the quality of the food and serve, but also provide insight about the environment. Tripadvisor is a handy tool, which can give you reviews and ratings of establishments.
Avoid dining at restaurants with reviews that mention a loud or bustling atmosphere. Instead, search for one where patrons found the setting conducive to conversation.
2. Avoid the peak hour rush
Peak hour times in a restaurant can be very noisy, if you don’t mind eating a little earlier make a reservation for an earlier time when it won’t be as busy. You can call up the restaurant and ask the staff what time the peak dinner hours are, and then make your reservation earlier or later to avoid the rush. Off peak dining has more benefits than just lower noise level, if booked through FirstTable for example, diners can receive discounts for being the first table of the evening, lunch or breakfast time.
3. Request to sit in a quiet area
The layout and decor of a room can have a really big impact on the level of background noise that can impact your experience, ask to be seated in a quiet area. Booths and high back chairs will block some of the background noise that can disrupt your conversation, as softer materials dampen noise. Open tables tend to lack in natural noise blockages, therefore making it harder to hear.
It is also a great idea to sit along the perimeter or wall of the restaurant, with your back to the wall, as it is naturally quieter as the restaurant sound aren’t coming from all sides.
4. Call ahead
Some restaurants play music during dinner or have live music. Check in with restaurants before you dine to ask if there will be live music, or if they have installed localised hearing loops. You can ask to be seated in a quiet area. It’s good to know ahead of time so you can plan to choose a different venue if required.
5. Aid your experiences with hearing aid technology
Most modern hearing aids are equipped with directional microphone technology designed to help you hear better in the presence of background noise.
Most directional systems operate with the assumption that you will be facing the speakers you most want to hear. The system will then provide emphasis to sounds/voices coming from in front of you and reduce sounds from behind you.
Position yourself so that your back is facing the majority of the noise (when wearing hearing devices) so that the directional microphones can work more effectively in filtering out the noise from behind.
It’s even more helpful to have your companion(s) with their back to a wall, so their voice is the only sound coming from in front of you for the directional microphones to emphasize. You will get the best results if you position yourself in a way to take advantage of this feature.
Our recommendation for the type of hearing device to wear for enjoying dining out experiences would be the open fit receiver-in-the ear technology (provided it’s suitable for your hearing loss). Devices that are equipped with more advanced features such as adaptive directionality and automatic environmental optimisation are recommended to enhance listening comfort in noisy environments. In addition, assistive listening devices such as mini microphones can further enhance the listening experience.
Whether it is a birthday meal out with friends and family, or a lunch with colleagues, you should be able to enjoy dining out with the comfort of hearing your companions. Follow these tips to enhance your dining out experience.
If you are experiencing hearing difficulties, then book an appointment to see one of our trained Audiologists today.
Regain your hearing, and experience all the best things in life.