Eating Out Again? Watch for High Noise Levels

After endless months of eating all meals at home, and far too much quiet, families are gathering again to celebrate birthdays, engagements, weddings, and of course upcoming Mother’s Day.  But the noise levels of a crowded restaurant is not only frustrating for people who are hard of hearing but can also be isolating. 

When planning a family get-together or celebration that includes older adults, it’s important to take stock of the venue’s noise level when filled with talkative people.  Many newer restaurants have high ceilings, ceramic or stone floors, and an open-concept floor plan.  While this esthetic may be accessible and modern, and easier to clean, the high noise level of sound bouncing off hard surfaces can hinder conversations and contribute to social anxiety. 

Restaurants that have more soft surfaces like area rugs, drapes, tablecloths, cushioned seating, and fabric wall coverings are quieter.  When dining out and the music is competing with conversations, instead of yelling over the noise and contributing to an even louder environment, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask management to turn down the background music a bit.  Nobody expects or wants silence during a meal out, but too much noise can spoil the experience for people who struggle to hear with lots of background noise.

Planning ahead is also helpful to ensure everyone enjoys their dining experience.  Picking off-hours between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for dinner will usually deliver quieter surroundings.  Choose a table in a more secluded area and check online reviews for comments about the noise level. You can even download the free SoundPrint app to search for a quieter restaurant, bar, or cafe.  Apple iWatch users with updated iOS have the ability to check environmental sound levels through an installed app called Noise. Results can be seen in real-time on the iWatch or in the Health app of their iPhone.

Nearly 40 million American adults are hard of hearing.  Untreated hearing loss can increase the risk for social isolation, depression, and cognitive decline.  Taking mom out for brunch on Sunday?   Check ahead that she, and everyone else, can hear and participate in the conversation with friends and family.