John’s having trouble at work because he can’t always make out conversations. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else mumbling. He feels that you should be older to wear hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing examination. But in the meantime, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by cranking up the volume on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging that he has loss of hearing has stopped him from getting practical solutions.
But John’s perspective is more outdated than he recognizes. Because the stigma around loss of hearing is becoming less common. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma surrounding hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it was in the past, especially among younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, hearing loss has some cultural and social associations that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. People are commonly concerned that they may lose social status if others know they have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem older or not as “with it”.
This problem might be thought of as trivial and not associated with reality. But there are certain very real consequences for people who are trying to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Some examples include:
- Obstacles in your career (possibly you missed a critical sentence in a business meeting).
- Difficulties in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Putting of on hearing loss treatment (leading to unnecessary suffering and undesirable results).
- Job hunting problems (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 quite a few more examples but the point is well made.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and it really does seem as if the stigma around loss of hearing is fading away.
The Passing of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various substantial reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Population demographics are transforming as is our relationship with technology.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Possibly the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is becoming increasingly common, particularly with younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens deal with hearing loss according to most statical research, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud noise from several sources seems to be the primary factor), but the point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever was before.
There is more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more common.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted wearing them. But nowadays hearing aids nearly completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most cases are very subtle.
But frequently hearing aids go unnoticed because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so no one is concerned if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Naturally, those two reasons are not the exclusive causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, hearing loss has been portrayed with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular society, and several prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding 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. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma goes away. This will help enhance overall hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.