John’s been having problems hearing at work. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is mumbling. Besides, he thinks he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing exam and has been avoiding a hearing exam. But in the meantime, he’s been doing significant harm to his ears by cranking up the volume on his earbuds. So, sadly, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his ideas are antiquated. Because the stigma concerning hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s much less pronounced than it was in the past, especially with younger generations. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, hearing loss has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always necessarily true or helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. The fear is that you’ll lose some social standing if you acknowledge you have loss of hearing. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “cool”.
You could be tempted to think of this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, separated from reality. But for people who are attempting to deal with hearing loss there are some very real consequences. Including these examples:
- Putting off proper care of hearing loss (causing needless troubled and poor results).
- Relationship challenges (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Obstacles in your occupation (perhaps you didn’t hear a critical sentence in a business meeting).
- 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 quite a few more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, changes are occurring, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Diminishing?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for a number of reasons. Population demographics are changing as is our connection to technology.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent in Younger People
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more frequently and that could certainly 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. around 34 million, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. In all likelihood, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this loss of hearing is more widespread than ever before.
There’s more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Maybe you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But now hearing aids nearly completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in most instances are very subtle.
But hearing aids also often go unobserved because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody 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 for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, loss of hearing has been depicted with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few notable celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma concerning hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Of course, now we are trying to do all we can to prevent hearing loss. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be ideal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing professional as this stigma goes away. This will help enhance general hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.