John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. He feels that you should be old to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing exam 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 significant harm to his hearing. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has stopped him from getting practical solutions.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his ideas are antiquated. Hearing loss doesn’t have the stigma that it used to. Specifically, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, even though you may still see it to some degree in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
The social and cultural connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, false and not helpful. For many, loss of hearing might be regarded as a sign of aging or a loss of vigor. The concern is that you’ll lose some social status if you disclose you have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem older or not as “cool”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous issue, detached from reality. But there are a few very real implications for individuals who are trying to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Some examples include:
- Obstacles in your career (Maybe you were in a meeting and you missed some essential information).
- Delaying proper care of loss of hearing (causing needless troubled and poor outcomes).
- Setbacks in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against 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 seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is really going away.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Diminishing?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for a number of reasons. Our connection to technology coupled with demographic changes in our population have started to alter how we experience devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Loss of Hearing
Possibly the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be a lot more prevalent, especially with younger individuals (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from hearing loss according to most statical research, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. In all probability, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this loss of hearing is more widespread than it’s ever been.
There is more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
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 nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most cases are very subtle.
But hearing aids also frequently go unnoticed because today, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has a better image these days. Recently, loss of hearing has been portrayed with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular culture, and a few prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Of course, now we are trying to do all we can to stop hearing loss. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel comfortable making an appointment with their hearing specialist and having frequent exams. This will keep everyone hearing better and improve overall hearing health.