John’s having a difficult time at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he thinks it may be everyone else not speaking clearly. He feels that you have to be old to wear hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on finding a hearing professional, and hasn’t had a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant harm to his ears. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has stopped him from getting practical treatments.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his views are antiquated. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. Particularly, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, though you may still encounter it to some degree in some groups. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, hearing loss has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes associated with loss of hearing. People are commonly concerned that they may lose social standing if others recognize they have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you appear older or not as “with it”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous concern, isolated from reality. But there are some very real implications for individuals who are trying to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Here are some examples:
- Relationship setbacks (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Avoiding hearing loss management (leading to unnecessary struggling and undesirable outcomes).
- Career setbacks (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some essential point).
- 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).
This list could continue for quite some time, but at this point you most likely get the idea.
Fortunately, changes are happening, and it genuinely does feel as if the stigma over hearing loss is fading away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are numerous major reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Our relationship with technology in addition to demographic changes in our population have begun to change how we feel about things like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are dealing with loss of hearing more often and that could certainly be the number one reason for the decline in the stigma connected to it.
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from loss of hearing according to most statical research, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (loud sound from multiple sources seems to be the primary factor), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever has been in the past.
As hearing loss becomes more common, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and false information surrounding hearing conditions.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted wearing them. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost blend entirely in. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But often hearing aids go unnoticed because these days, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you have a little piece of useful technology yourself.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other reasons why hearing loss has a better 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 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. Now, of course, we want to prevent hearing loss in every way that we can. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This will help improve general hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.