John’s having a difficult time at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. He believes that you have to be old to use hearing aids, so he has been procrastinating on finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing considerable harm to his ears by cranking up on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has loss of hearing has stopped him from seeking out effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his ideas are outdated. Hearing loss doesn’t have the stigma that it used to. Specifically, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, though you might still encounter it to some degree in some groups. (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. For some people, hearing loss might be viewed as a sign of old age or a loss of vitality. People are frequently worried that they may lose social status if others know they have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “with it”.
This problem might be thought of as insignificant and not connected to reality. But for individuals who are trying to deal with hearing loss there are some very genuine consequences. Including these examples:
- Putting off proper care of hearing loss (resulting in less than ideal results or needless suffering).
- Setbacks in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Career obstacles (Perhaps you were in a meeting and you missed some crucial point).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around 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 genuinely does feel as if the stigma over hearing loss is on its way out.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are several major reasons why hearing loss stigma is decreasing. Population demographics are transforming and so is our perception of technology.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Hearing Loss
Perhaps the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more common, particularly with younger people (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not kids).
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from hearing loss according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. Most likely, loud sounds from several modern sources are the leading reason why this loss of hearing is more common than ever before.
There’s more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more common.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first set of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But today hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But hearing aids also typically go undetected because today, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you’ve got a tiny piece of useful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has a better image right now. Much more is generally comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to prevent hearing loss in every way that’s possible. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing care specialists and getting regular examinations. This will keep everyone hearing better and enhance overall hearing health.