John’s been having difficulty hearing at work. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He thinks that you should be old to use hearing aids, so he has been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing examination. But in the meantime, he’s been doing considerable damage to his ears by turning up on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has hearing loss has stopped him from looking for practical solutions.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his viewpoints are outdated. Because the stigma around hearing loss is becoming less common. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it was previously, particularly with younger people. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always fundamentally helpful or true. 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 loss of hearing. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem older or not as “cool”.
This problem might be thought of as insignificant and not associated with reality. But for individuals who are attempting to deal with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Some examples include:
- Occupation obstacles (possibly you missed a critical sentence in a company meeting).
- Challenges in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Putting off proper care of hearing loss (causing unnecessary struggling and undesirable results).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are numerous more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, this is all changing, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is happening for a variety of reasons. Our relationship with technology along with demographic transformations in our population have begun to change how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Loss of Hearing
Perhaps the number one reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be a lot more prevalent, especially among younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens have loss of hearing according to most statical research, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (noise from a number of sources appears to be the largest factor), but the point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever has been in the past.
As hearing loss becomes more prevalent, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and false information concerning hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable indication that you have a hearing problem But now hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But hearing aids also commonly go undetected because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you’ve got a small piece of practical technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Of course, those two factors are not the only causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, hearing loss has been depicted with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few prominent celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss truths.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do everything we can to stop hearing loss. The ideal would be to reverse 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 will keep people hearing better and improve general hearing health.