One in eight Americans lives with hearing loss, an estimated fifteen percent of the population. In a highly verbal world, this type of challenging listening situation can wreck havoc on a healthy social life. When conversation becomes frustrating or tiring, our relationships and emotional health can suffer.
Perhaps living with hearing loss has forced you to turn down invitations to social gatherings, especially those backyard summer BBQs.
Here are five strategies for a more enjoyable backyard BBQ for people with hearing loss.
The Hurdles Present in Outdoor Events
It’s natural to move the party outdoors when the weather cooperates. In the summer months, hosts tend to use the backyard as the event setting. Even while being outside in the sunshine and fresh air is always a treat, it can be difficult for people with hearing impairments to fully participate in social gatherings with a large group.
Time and again, people with hearing loss bemoan the frustration of coherent conversation in group settings. Think about it, the sheer number of people at a dinner or cocktail party leads to an increase in background noise. What might seem like a fun, social outing is ripe with issues for people with challenged hearing.
Taking a group outside makes speech clarity, or understanding what people are saying, even more of a dilemma. Traffic sounds, lawn maintenance and other environmental sounds amplify the problem.
- Be A Duo or a Trio
For a less intimidating set of conversation parameters, opt for a small group of people to sit with. Arrange your chair so that you can see the other people’s faces. Having fewer people to keep track of and a better chance of being able to see their expressions will make it much simpler to keep up with the conversation and understand what they are saying.
- Create a Space for Conversation
Without designated seating and separating walls, people tend to congregate in impromptu, less focused clusters. Make your own cozy arrangements for seating if you can’t find any free from the music-blasting speakers. Try to situate yourself behind any speakers or noise-adding factors and position yourself so that your back is against a wall or fence. This will cut down on confusing background noise. Note that the buffet table and beverage stations will be high traffic areas, so stay away from those landmarks.
For those playing host, create a quiet area for your guests (indoors or in a peaceful corner) before the party starts.
- Carve Out Moments to Yourself
As far as party commandments go, none specify that you have to be engaged the whole time. People with hearing loss can easily experience listening fatigue, making it draining for them to carry on conversation for long stretches of time. Take a break if you feel like listening fatigue is affecting your mood.
Meander down the street or around the block. Or, find an unoccupied room inside to sit quietly and breathe deeply while you replenish your energy levels.
- Use the Buddy System
If you have access to the guest list, reach out to a friend and fellow guest in advance. Let them know that your hearing loss is resulting in additional anxieties about the upcoming gathering and ask them to help out. Having a support system literally at your side for the event will bolster your confidence and alleviate that fear of being left out.
If your significant other always steps up to the plate in this capacity, switch things up by making advance preparations with a different party guest. That way, you’ll get extra time with an important person spent in a way that helps build your relationship. You’ll also have more to talk to with your partner or spouse after the party ends, sharing your different experiences of the party with one another.
- Orchestrate an Activity
Spice things up for you and your party friends by introducing a fun activity. A pack of cards can attract guests of all ages. A game of Uno or Gin Rummy reduces the amount of strain on yourself, eliminating some of the small talk pressure. Pick a game that follows rules you already know, so that there is an element of routine involved in the experience.
Charades is another fantastic party game for people, both young and old. This is especially helpful because sussing out the answer has little to do with your ability to hear.
Why Not Schedule a Hearing Test Today?
Instead of dreading next summer’s barbecues, use this time to look into the reality of your hearing health. Schedule a hearing consultation with our team today.