John’s having a difficult time at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he feels like it may be everyone else not speaking clearly. He thinks that you have to be older to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been pumping up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has hearing loss has prevented him from seeking out practical treatments.
But John’s outlook is more outdated than he recognizes. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss, it’s far less pronounced than it was previously, especially among younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always necessarily true or helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. People are often concerned that they may lose social standing if others find out they have hearing loss. They feel like they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as unimportant and not connected to reality. But for people who are trying to deal with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Some examples include:
- Delaying management of hearing loss (leading to less than ideal results or unnecessary struggling).
- Relationship setbacks (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Obstacles in your occupation (perhaps you didn’t hear a significant sentence in a business meeting).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could continue for quite some time, but you most likely get the idea.
Fortunately, changes are happening, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
Why is Hearing Loss Stigma Declining?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for a variety of reasons. Population demographics are transforming and so is our relationship with technology.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Perhaps the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more prevalent, particularly with younger individuals (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not kids).
34 million U.S. citizens are dealing with hearing loss according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. Most likely, loud sounds from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this loss of hearing is more prevalent than it’s ever been.
There is more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more common.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Possibly you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were worried they would be a noticeable indication that you have a hearing problem. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids pretty much entirely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in most instances are very discreet.
But frequently hearing aids go unnoticed because today, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to having technology so no one cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has a better image lately. Recently, hearing loss has been portrayed with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few notable celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss truths.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do all we can to prevent hearing loss. If we could determine a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This will help enhance general hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.