Anyone who lives with hearing loss can attest to experiencing occasional difficulties while socializing. Whether you’re in a crowded room with tons of people or a packed restaurant that’s bursting with background noise, overcoming these obstacles may be trying when it comes to communicating with friends and family. Spending quality time with the people who matter to you the most can not only be therapeutic, but has also been proven to improve your overall health in the long run. Hearing loss should never have to get in the way of your social life. Here are a few ways people living with hearing loss can help improve their socializing experience in louder environments:

Understand your listening devices
Hearing aids and other assistive listening devices can be very helpful in social settings for people with hearing loss. If you’ve just started using hearing aids or other assistive listening devices, make sure you consult with your audiologist beforehand to find out about the settings and get tips for maximizing the acoustic quality. You can also test your assistive listening device’s capabilities out at home. Turn on some music and ease your ears into how the device handles variations in frequencies and environments.

Practice makes perfect
If you have recently received begun using hearing aids or other assistive devices, you could begin trying to get a feel for how the acoustic settings of the device work in more crowded or noisy environments. Ask a few of your closer friends to accompany you out to lunch or dinner. Don’t be afraid to pick out a place that’s more popular, as this will provide you with an opportunity to see how well your customized hearing aid or device settings can work in louder surroundings.

Make meeting suggestions
If you plan on meeting up with people for a meal or a social get-together, don’t be afraid to chime in and suggest the location. More often than not, people don’t usually mind where exactly it is they meet up. If you know of a place that’s usually not that crowded or features a more laid-back ambiance, be vocal and recommended it as the meeting spot.

Scan your surroundings
If you know that you’re heading out to a restaurant or venue that’s at least a little full, upon entrance, look for a quieter area where you can hear best. This can mean asking your hostess to place you in a booth located in the back, opting for patio seating instead of a packed bar setting or even finding a place that’s well-lit, so it’s easier to see everyone’s face while conversing. If the destination you’re arriving at is blaring loud music, ask the manager if there’s anyway they can turn down the volume a tad.

Control the conversation
Whenever you find yourself struggling to keep up with what’s being said at the table, try to avoid being lost in the conversation by controlling it. Take charge and ask all the questions to those you’re spending time with, or throw out different subjects or discussion topics so it’s easier to stay in the loop on what’s being talked about.

Explain your condition
While this is entirely up to you, making your friends or family aware of your hearing loss may help ease the stress of trying to keep up with the socializing, especially in a loud environment. They will be sure to understand your situation, and will also be more inclined to speak up and more clearly amid the background noise.

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