John’s having trouble at work because he can’t always hear conversations. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He believes that you should be older to wear hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding finding a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing examination. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his ears. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking help.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his views are antiquated. Loss of hearing doesn’t have the stigma that it used to. Particularly, with younger people, it’s much less evident, though you may still encounter it to some extent in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
Simply put, hearing loss has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always fundamentally helpful or true. For some, hearing loss may be seen as an indication of old age or a loss of vigor. The worry is that you’ll lose some social standing if you disclose you have loss of hearing. Some may think that hearing aids make you look old or not as “cool”.
You may be tempted to think of this stigma as a rather amorphous problem, detached from reality. But for people who are attempting to deal with hearing loss there are some very real consequences. Some examples include:
- Setbacks in your job (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you missed some significant facts).
- Delaying management of hearing loss (leading to less than ideal results or unnecessary suffering).
- Difficulties in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for some time, but at this point you probably get it.
Thankfully, changes are occurring, and it truly does feel as though the stigma around hearing loss is on its way out.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various substantial reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Our connection to technology in addition to demographic changes in our population have started to change how we feel about things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Younger People
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more frequently and that could very well be the number one reason for the decrease in the stigma connected to it.
Most statistical studies report the number of individuals who have hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (noise from a number of sources seems to be the biggest problem), but the main point is that hearing loss is more common now than it ever was in the past.
There’s more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But today hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But hearing aids also often go unnoticed because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so no one cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has an improved image right now. In recent years, hearing loss has been depicted with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and several notable celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma concerning loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss in every way that’s possible. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while fighting against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This can help enhance overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.