John’s having a difficult time at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he thinks he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding seeking out 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 damage to his hearing. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has hearing loss has prevented him from looking for effective solutions.
But John’s attitude is more outdated than he recognizes. Hearing loss doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma surrounding hearing loss, it’s far less pronounced than it was in the past, especially with younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. People are frequently worried that they might lose social status if others recognize they suffer from hearing loss. They feel like they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
This problem might be thought of as insignificant and not connected to reality. But for people who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real consequences. Here are some examples:
- Relationship obstacles (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Setbacks in your occupation (possibly you missed a critical sentence in a company meeting).
- Putting of on hearing loss treatment (leading to less than ideal results or unnecessary struggling).
- 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.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and it truly does feel as though the stigma surrounding loss of hearing is on its way out.
The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is taking place for a number of reasons. Our connection to technology combined with demographic changes in our population have begun to alter how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Younger adults are suffering from loss of hearing more often and that could very well be the number one reason for the decrease in the stigma connected to it.
Most statistical research put the number of people with loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. In all probability, loud sounds from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this hearing loss is more prevalent than ever before.
There’s more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Perhaps you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But nowadays hearing aids almost blend in completely. No one really even sees them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most cases are very subtle.
But hearing aids also typically go unobserved because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to having technology so no one cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Of course, those two reasons are not the only causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we see loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to prevent hearing loss in every way that we can. If we could determine a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be ideal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This will help enhance general hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.