John’s having a difficult time at work because he can’t always make out conversations. He’s in denial and continues telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He thinks that you should be old to wear hearing aids, so he has been procrastinating on finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable damage to his hearing. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has prevented him from getting effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his viewpoints are outdated. Because the stigma about loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less evident, even though you might still encounter it to some degree in some circles. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some cultural and social associations that aren’t always necessarily true or helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. People are commonly concerned that they may lose social status if others recognize they suffer from hearing loss. They feel like they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous problem, isolated from reality. But for individuals who are trying to deal with hearing loss there are some very real repercussions. Including these examples:
- Delaying proper care of loss of hearing (leading to unnecessary suffering and poor results).
- Relationship problems (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Setbacks in your job (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some relevant information).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for quite a while, but at this point you probably get the point.
Luckily, this is all changing, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various major reasons why hearing loss stigma is decreasing. Our connection to technology in addition to demographic changes in our population have begun to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more frequently and that could certainly be the biggest reason for the decline in the stigma connected to it.
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to get into here (loud sound from many sources seems to be the biggest factor), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever has been before.
As loss of hearing becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and false information concerning hearing issues.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost entirely blend in. No one really even sees them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But often hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody is concerned if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Change in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has an improved image right now. Recently, hearing loss has been depicted with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular culture, and several notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma concerning hearing loss the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss 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 begin to be ok with seeing a hearing professional as this stigma goes away. This will help enhance overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.