John’s having difficulties at work because he can’t always make out conversations. But he thinks it might be everyone else mumbling. He feels that you have to be old to use hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on finding a hearing professional, and hasn’t had a hearing test. But in the meantime, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by cranking up the volume on his earbuds. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his ideas are outdated. Because the stigma around loss of hearing is becoming less common. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma surrounding hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it was in the past, especially among younger generations. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, hearing loss has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. Loss of vitality and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. People are frequently concerned that they may lose social status if others know they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you appear older or not as “cool”.
You may be tempted to think of this stigma as a rather amorphous concern, isolated from reality. But for people who are attempting to cope with loss of hearing there are some very real consequences. Here are some examples:
- Career setbacks (Maybe you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some relevant facts).
- Setbacks in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Avoiding hearing loss management (leading to needless troubled and poor results).
- Difficulty finding employment (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, changes are taking place, and it really does feel as if the stigma surrounding hearing loss is fading away.
Why is Hearing Loss Stigma Declining?
There are several significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is decreasing. Our connection to technology combined with demographic transformations in our population have begun to alter how we experience devices like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more frequently and that could certainly be the biggest reason for the decrease in the stigma connected to it.
34 million U.S. citizens have hearing loss according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. Most likely, loud sounds from many modern sources are the primary reason why this hearing loss is more widespread than ever before.
There is more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids pretty much blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in the majority of cases are very subtle.
But hearing aids also typically go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so nobody is concerned if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Change in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has an improved image these days. In recent years, hearing loss has been depicted with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular culture, and a few prominent celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss stories.
There will continue to be less stigma about hearing loss 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 battling against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma goes away. This will keep everybody hearing better and improve overall hearing health.