John’s been having difficulty hearing at work. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He feels that you should be older to wear hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing exam. But in the meantime, he’s been doing significant harm to his ears by pumping up on his earbuds. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from getting help.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less common. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss, it’s much less pronounced than it used to be, particularly among younger people. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, not true and not helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes associated with loss of hearing. People are commonly concerned that they will lose social status if others discover they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “cool”.
This problem may be thought of as unimportant and not connected to reality. But for individuals who are attempting to deal with loss of hearing there are some very genuine repercussions. Including these examples:
- Difficulties in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Setbacks in your job (perhaps you missed an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Delaying proper care of hearing loss (resulting in less than ideal results or unnecessary struggling).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are many more examples but the point is well made.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and it truly does feel as though the stigma around hearing loss is on its way out.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Diminishing?
This decline in hearing loss stigma is taking place for a number of reasons. Our relationship with technology combined with demographic changes in our population have started to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Loss of Hearing
Younger adults are dealing with loss of hearing more often and that could very well be the number one reason for the decline in the stigma connected to it.
Most statistical studies put the number of individuals who have loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. In all probability, loud sounds from several modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more prevalent than it’s ever been.
There is more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first set of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most circumstances are very subtle.
But often hearing aids go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so nobody cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
There are other reasons why hearing loss has an improved image lately. In recent years, hearing loss has been portrayed with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do all we can to prevent hearing loss. If we could find a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This will keep everybody hearing better and improve overall hearing health.