John’s been having problems hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else mumbling. He feels that you should be old to wear hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing test. But in the meantime, he’s been doing considerable harm to his ears by cranking up the volume on his earbuds. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking help.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his ideas are antiquated. Hearing loss doesn’t carry the stigma that it used to. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less pronounced, even though you may still see it to some degree in some groups. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The social and cultural connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, not true and not helpful. For many, loss of hearing might be viewed as a sign of old age or a loss of vigor. The worry is that you’ll lose some social status if you acknowledge you have loss of hearing. They feel like they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
This problem could be thought of as irrelevant and not connected to reality. But there are a few very real consequences for individuals who are trying to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Avoiding hearing loss management (resulting in less than ideal results or needless suffering).
- Setbacks in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Career setbacks (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you missed some essential facts).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for quite a while, but at this point you probably get the idea.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The End of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various major reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Population demographics are changing and so is our perception of technology.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Possibly the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming more and more common, particularly with younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens have hearing loss according to most statical research, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (noise from many sources seems to be the primary problem), but the point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever was in the past.
As hearing loss becomes more prevalent, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and false information surrounding hearing problems.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Perhaps you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost blend entirely in. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But hearing aids also often go unobserved because these days, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has a better image these days. Much more is generally understood about hearing loss and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
The more we see loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This can help improve overall hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.