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Have you skipped out on summer gatherings this year because it’s too difficult to maintain conversations in chaotic, backyard environments? Don’t skip the next one!
We’ve got tips on navigating summer gatherings for people with hearing loss, just for you.
The Challenges Of Outdoor Gatherings
As the temperatures rise, we often see hosts opting to take advantage of pleasant outdoor weather by choosing the backyard as a popular party location. And while the sunshine and fresh air are welcome, gathering in large groups outside can erect barriers of social enjoyment for people with hearing loss.
Large group gatherings can always be challenging, like a dinner or cocktail party, because the sheer number of folks attending can spike the volumes of background noise, making it more difficult to understand what people are saying and thus, introducing an extra element of frustration into what should be an engaging social adventure.
Moving gatherings outdoors poses particular obstacles to conversation. Often, we end up incorporating the background noise of the neighborhood, including competing parties, traffic sounds or lawnmower and other lawn maintenance sounds. Without walls and set seating, groups can use the space to disperse more widely, so that there is more space between you and the people you’ve engaged in conversation. And what is it about the backyard that makes folks crank up the party tunes? An amplified soundtrack can interrupt a quiet chat, too.
Tips For Successful Backyard Socializing
When possible, try to find a small group of people to fold into conversation. You may see one or two people sitting off to the side, which is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of. Arrange yourselves so that you can all face one another. It will be much easier to follow the conversation because of the limited number of participants, and facial visibility will enable you to see facial expressions and mouth movements that can support speech clarity.
Find A Cozy Spot
As we mentioned, without set seating areas and walls to confine groups, the tendency is to spread out. If there isn’t a seating arrangement already configured away from loud speakers blasting music, make one yourself. Find an area that is behind music speakers and try to put yourself with your back against a wall or fence. This will help obscure background noise from behind you, which can interfere in speech clarity. Avoid potential busy areas like a bar/drink station and away from grilling or food preparation.
If you’re hosting, prepare for your guests with hearing loss by setting this type of area up in advance.
Take A Break
There are no rules written in stone that you have to stay engaged and present for the entire duration of a backyard party. If you feel as though listening fatigue is impacting your mood, take a break. This goes especially for folks who wear hearing aids.
Be the mysterious guest who takes a short walk down the street. Notice any beautiful scenes, architecture or landscaping that catches your eye and you’ll also bring back conversation fodder in addition to a more peaceful and refreshed attitude.
Enlist A Wingman
Not that kind of wingman. Identify someone also attending the party that you can contact in advance. Let them know you’re feeling anxious about conversation because of hearing loss and ask them to use the buddy system with you during the event.
If your spouse or partner is often the one who plays this role for you, mix it up by planning ahead with another fellow party guest. They’ll enjoy the opportunity to support a friend, plus all that extra quality time that you two need.
Bring Along A Pack Of Cards
Sometimes aimless conversation can be tiring in itself. Having an activity to engage in can help relieve the burden of constant conversation. Bring a pack of playing cards and entice two or three friends in a casual game of gin rummy or euchre. If cards aren’t your thing, start a game of charades with a small group. This is particularly useful because hearing isn’t a prerequisite for this fun and lively activity!
Schedule A Hearing Consultation Today
Don’t spend this fall and winter dreading the outdoor gatherings of next summer! Schedule a hearing consultation with our highly trained team today.