John’s having trouble at work because he doesn’t always hear conversations. But he thinks it may be everyone else mumbling. He believes that you have to be old to use hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t had a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant harm to his ears by turning up on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has loss of hearing has stopped him from looking for effective solutions.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Because the stigma concerning loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less pronounced, even though you might still encounter it to some degree in some circles. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The social and cultural associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, not true and not beneficial. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. People are frequently concerned that they might lose social standing if others know they have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “cool”.
This problem may be thought of as trivial and not associated with reality. But there are some very real implications for people who are trying to deal with the stigma around hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Setbacks in your job (perhaps you missed a critical sentence in a company meeting).
- Putting of on hearing loss treatment (causing unnecessary suffering and poor results).
- Relationship obstacles (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for a while, but at this point you most likely get it.
Fortunately, this is all changing, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for several reasons. Our relationship with technology combined with demographic transformations in our population have started to alter how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Loss of Hearing
Perhaps the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more prevalent, especially among younger individuals (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not kids).
Most statistical studies put the number of individuals who have hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (loud sound from numerous sources seems to be the primary factor), but the point is that hearing loss is more common now than it ever has been before.
There is more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more common.
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 indication that you have a hearing condition. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in the majority of circumstances are very discreet.
But in many cases hearing aids go unnoticed because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one bats an eyelash when you’ve got a little piece of practical technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Obviously, those two factors are not the exclusive causes behind the retreat of hearing loss stigma. Much more is commonly understood about loss of hearing and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss in every way that we can. If we could determine a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be ideal.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel secure scheduling an appointment with their hearing care specialists and undergoing frequent screenings. This will keep everybody hearing better and improve overall hearing health.