John’s been having trouble hearing at work. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is mumbling. He feels that you should be old to wear hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by pumping up on his earbuds. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging he has loss of hearing has stopped him from looking for effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his ideas are outdated. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s far less apparent than it used to be, especially among younger generations. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
Simply put, hearing loss has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always fundamentally helpful or true. For many, hearing loss may be regarded as an indication of old age or a loss of vigor. People are often worried that they might lose social standing if others know they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you appear old or not as “with it”.
This issue may be thought of as insignificant and not associated with reality. But there are a few very real implications for people who are attempting to cope with the stigma of hearing loss. Some examples include:
- Putting off proper care of loss of hearing (leading to less than optimal results or unnecessary suffering).
- Challenges in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Occupation setbacks (perhaps you didn’t hear a significant sentence in a business meeting).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for quite a while, but you most likely get the idea.
Thankfully, this is all transforming, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
Why is Hearing Loss Stigma Diminishing?
This decline in hearing loss stigma is occurring for a variety of reasons. Population demographics are transforming and so is our relationship with technology.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Hearing Loss
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more often and that could certainly be the biggest reason for the decline in the stigma connected to it.
Most statistical studies report the number of people who suffer from hearing loss in the U.S. around 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. In all likelihood, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this loss of hearing is more common than ever before.
As loss of hearing becomes more prevalent, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation concerning hearing conditions.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Possibly you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing problem. But now hearing aids nearly completely blend 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. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you have a tiny piece of helpful technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Of course, those two reasons are not the exclusive causes behind the retreat of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, loss of hearing 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 truths.
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 prevent hearing loss. The ideal would be to reverse 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 will keep everyone hearing better and improve overall hearing health.