Valentine’s Dinner Tips


Susan L Fenrich, BC-HIS*

When you take your sweetheart out to dinner for Valentine’s day you may want to keep these tips in mind whether you have hearing loss and hearing aids or not.

Despite the significant improvements in hearing technology, people still have difficulties hearing in restaurants. Trying the following suggestions may help:

1. Plan by picking a quieter restaurant.  For example, unless your content to read the captioning on the televisions, avoid sports bars.  Try to find carpeted restaurants that have chairs with rollers on the legs (thus preventing an annoying scraping sound when they are moved), plants, and sound absorbent materials on the tables and walls.

2. Make reservations ahead of time, and ask for accommodations.

3. Go to your favorite restaurants, so you already know their specialties and options, such as choices of salad dressings or side dishes.

4. Pick the best day and time (not Friday nights!) to dine out.

5. Look on the restaurant’s website to preview the menu.

6. Choose to dine with a smaller number of dining partners.

7. Pick a table in the least noisy part of the restaurant (e.g.: away from the kitchen, bar, wait service stations, etc.).

8. Ask for seating in a well-lit area.

9. Remember that even people with normal hearing experience greater difficulty in a noisy listening environment than they do in a quiet listening environment.  So, don’t expect to do as well with your hearing aids in the noisy restaurant as you do in the quiet of your home.

10. Sit with your back to the window, so that lighting is on the speaker’s face, not in your eyes.

11. Request that staff turn down background music (you are probably not the only patron bothered by the volume of the music).

12. Tell the host/hostess and waiter/waitress, as well as your dining companions, that you have a hearing loss and that it will help you if they slow down a bit, speak a little bit louder, and face you directly.

13. When possible, indicate choices before you’re asked.  Examples: “I’d like a salad with Italian dressing” or “I would like a burger, no fries.”

14. Ask the waiter/waitress for a printed list of the specials of the day.

15. Use directional microphones and/or a FM system.  If your hearing aids are set to directional, be sure to sit with your back to the main noise source.

16. Don’t bluff!

17. If restaurant dining is for business, request another place to meet.

18. Relax/breathe and enjoy the fine food and the company, even if you don’t catch every word.

Hopefully these tips will help.  If you have a programmable digital hearing aids and still have problems hearing in the restaurant go back to your hearing aid provider to see if the hearing aids can be reprogrammed to help you hear better in that environment.  It is amazing what a big difference a small adjustment can make.

Call Welsch Hearing Aid Company in Sheboygan to schedule your FREE hearing test and consultation today at 920-452-0213

The tips for this article came from Tips for Hearing in Noise by Patricia B. Kricos, Ph.D. – University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.