John’s having problems at work because he doesn’t always hear conversations. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He feels that you should be old to wear hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing exam. Regrettably, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant harm to his hearing. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking help.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his viewpoints are outdated. Because the stigma around loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma surrounding hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it was in the past, particularly with younger generations. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, not true and not helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes connected to hearing loss. People are often worried that they could lose social standing if others discover they have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you look older or not as “with it”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous issue, isolated from reality. But there are a few very real consequences for individuals who are trying to cope with the stigma around hearing loss. Some examples include:
- Job obstacles (Perhaps you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some significant point).
- Putting off proper care of loss of hearing (resulting in less than ideal outcomes or needless suffering).
- Relationship obstacles (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- 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 numerous more examples but the point is well made.
Fortunately, this is all changing, and it really does feel as if the stigma around hearing loss is on its way out.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Diminishing?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is happening for a variety of reasons. Population demographics are transforming and so is our relationship with technology.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Loss of Hearing
Maybe the number one reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more common, specifically among younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not kids).
34 million U.S. citizens have hearing loss according to most statical studies, which translates into 1 in 10 people. More than likely, loud sounds from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this loss of hearing is more prevalent than ever before.
As hearing loss becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation concerning hearing conditions.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But today hearing aids nearly completely blend in. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But hearing aids also often go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you’ve got a little piece of useful technology yourself.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Naturally, those two factors 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 celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
There will continue to be less stigma concerning loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent hearing loss in every way that we can. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while fighting against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing professional as this stigma goes away. This will keep people hearing better and improve general hearing health.