John’s having trouble at work because he can’t always make out conversations. But he feels like it might be everyone else mumbling. He believes that you have to be older to wear hearing aids, so he has been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t had a hearing exam. But in the meantime, he’s been doing significant harm to his ears by turning up on his earbuds. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking help.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his ideas are outdated. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s far less apparent than it used to be, especially with younger generations. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, hearing loss has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. For some people, loss of hearing might be seen as an indication of old age or a loss of vitality. People are frequently worried that they may lose social status if others recognize they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you appear older or not as “with it”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous issue, separated from reality. But for individuals who are trying to cope with hearing loss there are some very real repercussions. Including these examples:
- Obstacles in your occupation (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some important point).
- Putting off management of hearing loss (resulting in less than optimal results or needless suffering).
- Difficulties in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could continue for quite a while, but you most likely get it.
Luckily, changes are taking place, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
Why is Hearing Loss Stigma Decreasing?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for a number of reasons. Our relationship with technology in addition to demographic transformations in our population have begun to alter how we experience devices like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Perhaps the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be a lot more common, especially among younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
Most statistical studies report the number of individuals with loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. Most likely, loud sounds from several modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more widespread than it’s ever been.
As hearing loss becomes more common, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing problems.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first set of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids pretty much blend entirely in. No one really even is aware of them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But in many cases hearing aids go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Everyone is used to dealing with 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 factors for why loss of hearing has an improved image lately. Much more is commonly understood about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
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. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel secure scheduling an appointment with their hearing specialist and having regular screenings. This will keep everyone hearing better and enhance general hearing health.