John’s been having problems hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else mumbling. He thinks that you have to be older to wear 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 cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable damage to his ears. So, sadly, his denial has prevented him from seeking out help.
But John’s outlook is more outdated than he thinks. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. Particularly, with the younger generation, it’s much less pronounced, though you might still encounter it to some degree in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
The social and cultural associations with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, false and not helpful. For many, loss of hearing might be viewed as an indication of aging or a loss of vigor. People are frequently concerned that they will lose social standing if others discover they suffer from hearing loss. They feel they may look old and come off as less “cool”.
You could be tempted to think of this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous problem, separated from reality. But for people who are attempting to cope with loss of hearing there are some very real consequences. Some examples include:
- Avoiding hearing loss management (leading to less than ideal results or unnecessary struggling).
- Difficulties in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Occupation setbacks (perhaps you missed an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for a while, but at this point you probably get the point.
Thankfully, this is all transforming, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for several reasons. Our connection to technology along with demographic changes in our population have started to change how we experience things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent 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 associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens are dealing with hearing loss according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. More than likely, loud sounds from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this hearing loss is more common than it’s ever been.
As loss of hearing becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing issues.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first set of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But today hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But often hearing aids go unnoticed because today, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Everyone is used to having technology so no one cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
Obviously, those two reasons are not the only causes behind the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally comprehended about hearing loss and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
There will continue to be less stigma about hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop 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 professional as this stigma goes away. This can help enhance general hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.