John’s been having problems hearing at work. He’s in denial and continues telling himself that everyone is mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he has been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing specialist, and hasn’t had a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his hearing. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from getting help.
But John’s perspective is older than he realizes. Because the stigma concerning loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. Particularly, with the younger generation, it’s much less evident, even though you may still encounter it to some extent in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, untrue and not beneficial. For some, hearing loss might be viewed as a sign of aging or a loss of vitality. The anxiety is that you’ll lose some social status if you acknowledge you have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem older or not as “with it”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous problem, detached from reality. But there are a few very real implications for individuals who are trying to deal with the stigma around hearing loss. Some examples include:
- Avoiding hearing loss management (leading to unnecessary troubled and undesirable results).
- Setbacks in your relationships (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Occupation setbacks (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you missed some relevant facts).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are many more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, this is all transforming, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really going away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various major reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Population demographics are changing as is our perception of technology.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more often and that could very well be the biggest reason for the decline in the stigma connected to it.
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from hearing loss 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 (noise from many sources seems to be the primary problem), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever was in the past.
As loss of hearing becomes more common, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and false information surrounding hearing problems.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first set of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids pretty much entirely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in the majority of cases are very discreet.
But hearing aids also frequently go undetected because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so no one is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Overdue
Obviously, those two factors are not the only causes behind the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is commonly comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding 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 specialist as this stigma fades away. This will keep everybody hearing better and improve general hearing health.