John’s having problems at work because he can’t always make out conversations. But he feels like it could be everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing exam. Regrettably, he’s been cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant harm to his ears. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from seeking help.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his views are antiquated. Hearing loss doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less evident, even though you may still encounter it to some degree in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always fundamentally helpful or true. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. People are commonly worried that they may lose social status if others find out they suffer from hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “with it”.
This problem could be thought of as inconsequential and not associated with reality. But for people who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real consequences. Here are some examples:
- Job setbacks (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you missed some important facts).
- Putting off proper care of hearing loss (causing needless struggling and undesirable results).
- Relationship obstacles (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are several more examples but the point is well made.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and it truly does feel as though the stigma surrounding hearing loss is on its way out.
The End of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are numerous major reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Population demographics are transforming and so is our perception of technology.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Maybe the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming more and more prevalent, particularly among younger individuals (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not children).
Most statistical studies report the number of people who dealing with hearing loss 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 get into here (loud sound from several sources appears to be the biggest factor), but the point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever was before.
There’s more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But hearing aids also typically go unobserved because today, everyone has some technology in their ears. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you have a small piece of practical technology yourself.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has an improved image right now. Recently, hearing loss has been portrayed with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular culture, and several notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss stories.
The more we see loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we are trying to do everything we can to stop hearing loss. 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 will help enhance overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.