Cooking with Hearing Loss: 3 tips for culinary success

Mature couple cooking

You don't want your hearing aids to fall out

Mealtime is an important touchpoint whether you are seating a family of three or a family reunion. Our time and attention are pulled a thousand different ways and mealtime is a chance to catch up with the day's family headlines. If you're among those individuals in charge of making dinner, you may not know that hearing loss can put a carefully orchestrated dinner at risk. Because there are certain unexpected challenges for those with hearing loss, use these tips to ensure success:

1) Wear your hearing aids
What is more precious than being able to hear children sharing the stories of their day at mealtime? It's important to take care of your hearing aids to avoid damaging or losing them.

Everyone knows to remove your hearing aids before showering or swimming, but you should wear them while doing household tasks like baking. Even glasses slip more while you are looking down whether you are chopping, folding or icing. So, the last thing you want is for your devices to fall out into the cookie dough while baking. This is one of those little things you may not think of initially & consulting with a professional will ensure proper fit to prevent this and other mishaps. Schedule an appointment with an audiologist or hearing health specialist to find hearing aids that are right for your needs and properly fit your ears.

2) Be aware of loud sounds
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), common household items like kitchen blenders and food processors can produce sound levels up to 90 decibels (dB). The disposal can reach 95 dB as can a hair dryer. Your pet's squeaky toys can get up to 135dB. ASHA noted that exposure to sounds at 85 decibels and above can lead to hearing loss. This means that a task as innocent as making your favorite chocolate-chip cookies can damage your hearing. Beyond any long-term effects, exposure to a blender or food processor can be just plain uncomfortable, as the decibel range falls into the "very loud" category.

There are a few ways to avoid exposure to loud sounds while cooking that don't require neglecting the task altogether. After all, what would dinnertime or a holiday be without your special culinary touch? Consider wearing some hearing protection. If you are working alone and enjoy listening to music, some noise-canceling headphones might be just the thing while using these appliances - just be sure to keep the volume on your tunes down or you'll cause just as much harm. You could also use some earplugs. The drugstore has inexpensive disposable ones. Make sure they are in securely because you don’t want them to end up in the cookie dough either. You could also use a less-noisy alternative. A hand-held mixer tends to be quieter than blenders and food processors.

3) Compensate for your hearing loss
Even with hearing aids, someone with permanent hearing loss may still have difficulty picking up certain sounds. Picture a noisy kitchen with layers of noise while you and the “home team” make mounds of cakes, cookies and fudge. Make use of certain alternate tools to ensure your hearing loss doesn't let the turkey to burn. For example, instead of using a standard beeping timer set an alarm on your smart phone that vibrates. This way, even if you can't hear the high-pitched tone timers typically emit, you'll feel the buzzer and know it's time to turn off the oven.

You may also benefit from remaining in the kitchen while baking so you can better keep an eye on the food. If you have a million other things to do, like decorating, setting the table or cleaning the house, call on other family members to lend a hand. Remind them that those that share the work may reap some extra rewards! “Who wants to lick the spoon?”

If you are concerned about hearing loss, for yourself or someone important to you, the audiologists and hearing health care professionals at AccuQuest Hearing Centers can help. Contact your local AccuQuest to schedule a hearing test and consultation.

You may not know that hearing loss can put a carefully orchestrated dinner at risk. Because there are certain unexpected challenges for those with hearing loss, here are some tips to ensure success.