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5 tips to prepare for social outings with hearing loss

social outings with hearing loss

Having hearing loss doesn’t ever have to be a curse on your social life.

The important thing is to make certain that you are well informed and as prepared as possible before going out on social outings. Having hearing loss doesn’t have to change the person you are. Using a little extra thought can change the way you experience all the important moments in your life.

“Having hearing loss doesn’t have to change the person you are.”

It is important to be aware of any limitations you have and let’s be honest, we all have one or two of those. If one of your challenges is following the conversation of many people, you need to make certain that your party will be able to sit away from the main groupings of people. Perhaps off to one side or in a far corner.

If your hearing aids have a tendency to pick up loud noises in public places such as coffee machines and smoothie makers, you will want to make sure you can be seated at a distance that will level out your hearing and have your hearing aids pick up more than just background sounds. Having prior knowledge about overcoming siutations like these in social settings can help make the experience more enjoyable.

Here are five tips for preparing to be in a social setting. 

1) Express a preference

When asked if you have a preference, make sure to speak up if you do. All too often those of us with hearing loss are so happy to get an invitation that we readily just go with the majority vote and fail to put our ideas forward. We tend to not want to make a fuss. However, this can be the worst thing, because if we end up having an awful time, we can hardly complain, if we were offered a choice in the first place.

No, it is far better to offer preferences and explain why we like these places. This, assuming that those inviting us are aware of our hearing loss and its associated issues and challenges. Even if our friends have intimate knowledge of our issues, always be aware that unless they have hearing loss themselves, they will not truly understand how you experience any given situation.

If you are a confident person you might suggest a venue yourself, this way you’ll ensure that at the very least you’ll be on an even footing with whoever else will be joining you.

2) Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible about both the event and the venue. This doesn’t need to be too daunting, as most places can be emailed easily. Remember the more well informed you are about the situation to come, the more relaxed you’ll feel and of course, the better your experience will be.

If a venue has a hearing loops system, ask if it is fully working and also whether their staff is trained in its use. Surprisingly many places fitted with loops are unaware of how they work and even that they must be switched on in order to operate. Asking puts you in control.

Read more: What are hearing loops and how well do they work?

3) Find the best seat for you

Even if you do not consciously lip read, it is important to be aware that all hearing loss sufferers do make use of facial expressions and body language up to a point. Be sure you can sit in the best position in order to enable you to communicate at your best.

“Be sure you can sit in the best position in order to enable you to communicate at your best.”

Some places have very subdued lighting and this can put someone with hearing loss at a serious disadvantage. Instead, if this is one of your challenges, look for even lighting. It doesn’t have to be searchlights, just bright enough for you to be able to see faces clearly. This will make all of your communications run a lot smoother.

4) Carry spare batteries

Anyone who has been wearing hearing aids for a while will be all too familiar with that sudden realization that your batteries are about to quit on you. The feeling is one of sudden panic, but it doesn’t need to be. You can get little keyring hearing aid battery holders and these will hold up to three spare batteries. Alternatively, you can slip spares into a wallet or purse. The confidence this will give you will be a real boost and give you a solid foundation for the time ahead.

5) Be a planner

So often when asked where we would like to go, we take the easy option and choose to go with the flow. This can be great and it is certainly a good way to discover new places and enjoy new adventures. The only problem is if we always allow those with hearing to choose for us, it can often be less than perfect. So, instead of worrying about the experience ahead, be proactive well in advance.

“So, instead of worrying about the experience ahead, be proactive well in advance.”

Explore new places to eat and see how they make you feel; even just grabbing a coffee will give you an idea of how the place is. Take a good hard look at the seating area and the tables. Do they use cloths? Or are they hard surfaces? Does the sound of cutlery being place down make you nervous? Is the lighting bright enough to clearly see people’s faces?

In a nutshell:

1. Express a preference

2. Ask Questions

3. Be Well Seated

4. Take Spare Batteries

5. Be A Planner

By doing these five things you will put yourself in the perfect position to enjoy any social situation, whether it is a quiet drink with friends, work gathering, party or family event.

Having hearing loss doesn’t have to cut you off from people and a social life, it just offers you challenges, challenges which with a little thought and forward planning can be overcome.

Go out, have fun and enjoy yourself, you deserve the best.

What tips do you have for when you go out in social settings? Let us know in the comments.

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PR Hilton
Phonak hEARo, Phil is an author, journalist and therapist, living on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast with his wife Raine and their three children. Phil was diagnosed in 2016 with mild to moderate Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and tinnitus. He uses Phonak silver digital hearing aids with automatic volume controls.

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