John’s having trouble at work because he can’t always hear conversations. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. He believes that you have to be old to wear hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Regrettably, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant harm to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to admitting he has hearing loss has stopped him from looking for effective solutions.
But John’s mindset is more outdated than he realizes. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Particularly, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, even though you may still encounter it to some extent in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
The cultural and social connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, false and not beneficial. Loss of vitality and aging are oftentimes associated with loss of hearing. The worry is that you’ll lose some social standing if you acknowledge you have hearing loss. They feel they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous issue, detached from reality. But there are a few very real consequences for individuals who are trying to deal with the stigma around hearing loss. Here are some examples:
- Relationship problems (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Delaying treatment of hearing loss (leading to less than ideal outcomes or needless suffering).
- Obstacles in your occupation (Maybe you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some essential information).
- 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 many more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, this is all changing, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really going away.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various major reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Population demographics are transforming and so is our relationship with technology.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Younger People
Younger adults are suffering from loss of hearing more often and that could very well be the leading reason for the decrease in the stigma associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from hearing loss according to most statical research, which translates into 1 in 10 people. In all likelihood, loud sounds from several modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more prevalent than ever before.
There’s more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more common.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be an obvious indication that you have a hearing problem But today hearing aids nearly completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But hearing aids also often go unnoticed because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you have a little piece of useful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Past Due
Obviously, those two factors are not the only causes for the retreat of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, hearing loss has been depicted with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular society, and several prominent 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 are trying to do all we can to stop hearing loss. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while battling against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This will help improve overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.