When it comes to the end of a year and the start of a new one, it can feel like there is an enormous expectation to have fun.
Unfortunately, hearing loss can sometimes make dining out with friends, family and work colleagues an exhausting experience. Crowded rooms, loud music, and constant background noise can be painful and frustrating. In contrast, putting your feet up at home with a favourite book and a box of chocolates can seem a more attractive proposition. It doesn’t have to be this way…
We’ve compiled a few top tips on how to make the most of events and outings...
1. Carry out a daily maintenance check on your hearing aids
Wax guards can clog up easily so need to be cleaned and replaced on a regular basis. Keeping your hearing aids in tip-top condition will increase their lifespan and ensure you receive the best possible sound.
2. Be prepared
Take a spare set of hearing aid batteries with you. You don’t want your hearing aids to run out of power during a meal or at an event.
3. Book a hearing friendly venue
Low ceilings and carpeted floors are best as they soak up the unnecessary sound. If seating is required – roundtables are particularly useful for lip-reading.
4. As a guest, think ahead
Let your host know in advance of a social gathering or works party that you have a hearing impairment. It will give them time to make small changes to increase your comfort and help you get the best out of the event.
5. Find a quiet, well-lit spot at parties
Avoid being too close to the dance floor. Flashing lights and loud music can make conversation a major challenge. Additional lighting will help you read body language and fill in some of the gaps.
6. Don’t be shy, command attention
It’s important the person you’re speaking to faces you so you can lip read and capture what they’re saying. If they’re covering their mouth, speaking too quickly or too loudly, don’t be afraid to ask them to slow down, repeat themselves or turn the volume down slightly.
7. Sit in optimal positions
If possible, sit in a central position to enable you to lip read the whole group. Aim to keep your good ear closest to the person you want to chat to, even if it means asking them to switch seats.
8. Monitor your alcohol intake
If getting tipsy on Auntie Shirley’s sherry is a custom you’d rather keep; just be mindful - the more alcohol you drink, the more difficult it is to hear.
9. Trust in your ability to interpret body language and learn to lip read
Especially when you find yourself in a noisy listening environment, such as a nightclub or bar. We all subconsciously use our bodies to help communicate. The tilt of the head, a roll of the eyes and the movement of lips and tongue can send a clear message, even when words fail.
10. Use modern technology to communicate
Instead of a traditional phone call that can end in frustration, you can always Skype, Whatsapp or Facetime your loved ones instead. This way, you’ll be able to fill in any blanks in the conversation by lip reading and interpreting their body language.
11. If you have telecoil settings on your hearing aids, turn them on
When in a venue that operates an audio induction loop system. This will allow sound from a theatre production or public performance to be streamed directly to your digital hearing aids.
12. Use subtitles to follow your favourite movies
That way you will get to follow the whole story regardless of the noise around you.