John’s having a difficult time at work because he doesn’t always make out conversations. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. He thinks that you have to be older to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing test. Regrettably, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant damage to his ears. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his viewpoints are outdated. Loss of hearing doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less evident, though you might still see it to some extent in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. For many, hearing loss might be regarded as a sign of aging or a loss of vigor. People are frequently worried that they might lose social standing if others discover they have hearing loss. They feel they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as inconsequential and not connected to reality. But for individuals who are attempting to cope with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Some examples include:
- Career obstacles (perhaps you missed a significant sentence in a company meeting).
- Challenges in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Putting off treatment of hearing loss (leading to less than optimal results or unnecessary struggling).
- 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.
Fortunately, changes are occurring, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is really going away.
The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for a number of reasons. Population demographics are changing and so is our relationship with 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 are dealing with loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud noise from several sources seems to be the largest problem), but the point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever has been in the past.
There’s more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were worried they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing condition But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids virtually blend entirely in. No one notices 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 in many cases hearing aids go undetected because these days, everyone has something 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.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Naturally, those two reasons are not the only causes behind the reduction of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, hearing loss has been depicted with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few notable celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss stories.
The more we see hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss in every way that we can. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing professional as this stigma goes away. This can help improve general hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.