John’s been having difficulty hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. He believes that you should be old to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by pumping up on his earbuds. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging that he has loss of hearing has prevented him from getting effective solutions.
But John’s perspective is older than he believes. Loss of hearing doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it used to be, particularly with younger generations. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, hearing loss has some cultural and social associations that aren’t always necessarily true or helpful. For some people, loss of hearing might be seen as a sign of aging or a loss of vigor. The fear is that you’ll lose some social status if you admit you have loss of hearing. They feel they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous concern, detached from reality. But for individuals who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real repercussions. Some examples include:
- Difficulties in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Avoiding hearing loss treatment (leading to unnecessary struggling and poor results).
- Occupation setbacks (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some significant facts).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are several more examples but the point is well made.
Thankfully, this is all changing, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are several significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is decreasing. Our connection to technology combined with demographic changes in our population have begun to change how we experience things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent in Younger People
Possibly the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be a lot more common, especially with younger people (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens deal with loss of hearing 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 get into here (noise from a number of sources appears to be the biggest factor), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more common now than it ever was in the past.
There is more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be an obvious sign that you have a hearing issue. But now hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one really even sees them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most circumstances are very discreet.
But in many cases hearing aids go undetected because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one bats an eyelash when you’ve got a tiny piece of useful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Past Due
Naturally, those two factors are not the only causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is commonly comprehended about hearing loss and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
There will continue to be less stigma about hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss in every way that we can. If we could determine a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing specialist and having regular examinations. This can help enhance overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.