John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. He feels that you should be older to wear hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing exam and has been avoiding a hearing test. Regrettably, he’s been cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his ears. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from seeking out help.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his ideas are outdated. Loss of hearing doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma surrounding hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it was in the past, particularly among younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always necessarily true or helpful. For some, hearing loss may be regarded as an indication of aging or a loss of vitality. People are often concerned that they could lose social status if others know they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you look old or not as “with it”.
This issue might be thought of as irrelevant and not associated with reality. But for people who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very genuine repercussions. Including these examples:
- Putting off management of hearing loss (resulting in less than ideal results or needless suffering).
- Relationship setbacks (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Occupation obstacles (maybe you didn’t hear a critical sentence in a company meeting).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are many more examples but the point is well made.
Thankfully, changes are taking place, and it truly does seem as if the stigma over hearing loss is on its way out.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Diminishing?
There are various significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Our relationship with technology and also demographic changes in our population have begun to alter how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Loss of Hearing
Perhaps the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is becoming more and more prevalent, especially among younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens are dealing with hearing loss according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud sound from many sources appears to be the biggest factor), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more common now than it ever has been in the past.
There’s more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable indication that you have a hearing condition. But now hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But in many cases hearing aids go undetected because today, everyone has something in their ears. Everyone is used to having technology so nobody is concerned if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why hearing loss has an improved image these days. Much more is generally understood about loss of hearing and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
There will continue to be less stigma about hearing loss the more we see it in the world. Of course, now we are trying to do all we can to stop hearing loss. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This can help enhance overall hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.