John’s been having trouble hearing at work. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. He believes that you have to be older to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing considerable harm to his ears by cranking up on his earbuds. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But John’s outlook is older than he believes. Hearing loss doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it used to be, especially with younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
The social and cultural associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, not true and not beneficial. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes connected to loss of hearing. The anxiety is that you’ll lose some social status if you acknowledge you have hearing loss. They feel like they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as unimportant and not associated with reality. But for people who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very genuine consequences. Some examples include:
- Career obstacles (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you missed some relevant information).
- Relationship setbacks (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Avoiding hearing loss treatment (leading to needless suffering and poor outcomes).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are many more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, changes are occurring, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are several significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Our connection to technology combined with demographic changes in our population have started to change how we experience things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent in Youth
Maybe the number one reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be more and more prevalent, particularly among younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
Most statistical research put the number of people with loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. More than likely, loud sounds from many modern sources are the leading reason why this loss of hearing is more widespread than ever before.
As loss of hearing becomes more common, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and false information concerning hearing conditions.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted wearing them. But now hearing aids almost blend in completely. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most cases are very subtle.
But often hearing aids go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so no one cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has a better image these days. Much more is commonly comprehended about hearing loss and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss in every way that’s possible. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing care specialists and getting routine exams. This can help improve overall hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.