John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. He’s in denial and continues telling himself that everyone is mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding finding a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing exam. Regrettably, he’s been cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable damage to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to admitting that he has hearing loss has stopped him from getting practical solutions.
But John’s perspective is older than he realizes. Because the stigma around hearing loss is becoming less common. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less pronounced, though you may still see it to some extent in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
Put simply, hearing loss has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. People are commonly concerned that they could lose social standing if others find out they have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “cool”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous problem, detached from reality. But for people who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very genuine repercussions. Including these examples:
- Putting off proper care of hearing loss (leading to needless troubled and poor results).
- Setbacks in your occupation (possibly you missed a significant sentence in a business meeting).
- Relationship obstacles (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for some time, but at this point you most likely get the point.
Luckily, changes are occurring, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is occurring for several reasons. Our relationship with technology in addition to demographic changes in our population have started to alter how we experience devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Hearing Loss
Maybe the number one reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially with younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
Most statistical studies put the number of people who suffer from loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (noise from many sources appears to be the biggest problem), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more common now than it ever was in the past.
As loss of hearing becomes more prevalent, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids virtually blend entirely in. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But in many cases hearing aids go unnoticed because these days, everyone has something in their ears. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you have a tiny piece of helpful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has an improved image lately. Much more is commonly understood about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do all we can to stop hearing loss. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while fighting against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma goes away, more people will feel comfortable scheduling an appointment with their professionals and getting frequent screenings. This will keep people hearing better and enhance overall hearing health.