John’s having a hard time at work because he can’t always make out conversations. But he thinks it could be everyone else mumbling. He thinks that you have to be older to wear hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t had a hearing examination. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable damage to his hearing. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from seeking out help.
But John’s attitude is older than he realizes. Because the stigma concerning loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it was in the past, especially among younger people. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. The concern is that you’ll lose some social status if you disclose you have loss of hearing. They feel like they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue may be thought of as insignificant and not associated with reality. But there are certain very real consequences for individuals who are trying to cope with the stigma of hearing loss. Here are some examples:
- Career obstacles (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you missed some significant facts).
- Setbacks in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Avoiding hearing loss treatment (leading to less than ideal outcomes or needless suffering).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, 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 happening, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is really going away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is taking place for several reasons. Population demographics are changing as is our relationship with technology.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Loss of Hearing
Younger adults are suffering from loss of hearing more often and that could very well be the number one reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical research report the number of individuals who suffer from hearing loss in the U.S. around 34 million, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. More than likely, loud sounds from many modern sources are the leading reason why this loss of hearing is more prevalent than ever before.
There is more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were worried they would be an obvious sign that you have a hearing issue. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost entirely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in the majority of circumstances are very subtle.
But hearing aids also typically go unnoticed because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
There are other factors for why hearing loss has a better image right now. In recent years, loss of hearing has been depicted with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
The more we see hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we are trying to do all we can to stop hearing loss. If we could determine a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing professional as this stigma goes away. This will keep people hearing better and enhance general hearing health.