John’s having problems at work because he can’t always hear conversations. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He feels that you have to be older to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant harm to his ears by turning up on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to admitting that he has loss of hearing has stopped him from seeking out effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his views are outdated. Hearing loss doesn’t carry the stigma that it used to. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s far less apparent than it was previously, especially among younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
The cultural and social associations with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, not true and not helpful. For some people, loss of hearing may be seen as an indication of old age or a loss of vitality. People are frequently concerned that they might lose social status if others find out they suffer from hearing loss. They feel they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous issue, isolated from reality. But for people who are attempting to cope with loss of hearing there are some very genuine repercussions. Here are some examples:
- Challenges in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Job setbacks (perhaps you missed an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Putting of on hearing loss treatment (leading to unnecessary troubled and poor results).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could continue for quite some time, but you probably get it.
Thankfully, changes are taking place, and it truly does feel as if the stigma surrounding loss of hearing is on its way out.
The End of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are numerous significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Our connection to technology coupled with demographic changes in our population have begun to change how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Hearing Loss
Younger adults are dealing with loss of hearing more frequently and that could certainly be the leading reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens deal with loss of hearing according to most statical research, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to entering into here (noise from many sources seems to be the biggest factor), but the point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever was in the past.
As loss of hearing becomes more common, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and false information concerning hearing issues.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Possibly you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were worried they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing condition. But now hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one really even is aware of them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But frequently hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so no one cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Naturally, those two reasons are not the exclusive causes for the retreat of hearing loss stigma. Much more is commonly understood about loss of hearing and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
There will continue to be less stigma about loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while fighting against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This will help enhance overall hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.