Restaurants must be the bain of all hearing aids. Hearing aids do well with isolated noises, but with noise from all directions, it becomes quite confusing. A few strategies when dining out, however, can help minimize problems.
- Pick your restaurants carefully. Restaurants with a lot of ambience tend to be bad. Ambience in restaurants usually come in the form of low-lighting, background music, and hard, funky surfaces. The best restaurant from an acoustic standpoint is one with upholstered furniture, no background music, good lighting, and low ceilings.
- Go early for dinner. You can miss the bulk of the noisy dinner crowd and you usually have your choice of any seat in the house. So pick the potentially quietest corner or table in the restaurant.
- Choose your table wisely. If you can choose a table, pick one that’s in the corner. Two walls mean a little less noise. However, make sure you’re not right by the kitchen; otherwise, you’ll hear all the cutlery and chopping emitting from there. If there are booths available, they are often better for communication. The enclosure of your table can reduce the amount of noise that you hear.
- If you do get to choose a seat at your table, pick according to where the noise is. If you have hearing aids, you should set the aids to the noise mode and sit with your back to the restaurant while facing the wall. The wall doesn’t make as much noise as your fellow diners, so it’s better to be facing it. If you don’t have hearing aids, then sit beside the wall so that at least you can hear some of the conversation from one ear.
Sometimes, you can do all the above and still have a difficult time in the restaurant. Be patient and have a good humour about misunderstood conversation. Sometimes the misunderstanding can lead to good joke for everyone to share.