John’s having trouble at work because he can’t always make out conversations. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is mumbling. What’s more, he feels he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he has been procrastinating on finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant harm to his ears by pumping up on his earbuds. So, sadly, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But John’s perspective is more outdated than he believes. Because the stigma concerning loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with younger people, it’s far less evident, even though you might still encounter it to some extent in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
The cultural and social connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, not true and not beneficial. For some people, loss of hearing may be seen as a sign of aging or a loss of vitality. People are often worried that they might lose social standing if others recognize they suffer from hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you look older or not as “with it”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, isolated from reality. But for people who are trying to deal with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Including these examples:
- Relationship challenges (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Avoiding hearing loss treatment (resulting in less than optimal outcomes or unnecessary struggling).
- Career setbacks (possibly you missed a significant sentence in a business meeting).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could continue for a while, but at this point you most likely get the point.
Thankfully, changes are taking place, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
Why is Hearing Loss Stigma Diminishing?
There are numerous significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Population demographics are changing and so is our connection to technology.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Hearing Loss
Maybe the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more common, especially with younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not kids).
34 million U.S. citizens are dealing with loss of hearing according to most statical research, which translates into 1 in 10 people. More than likely, loud sounds from many modern sources are the leading reason why this loss of hearing is more common than it’s ever been.
As loss of hearing becomes more common, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and false information surrounding hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first set of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But now hearing aids nearly completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But often hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
There are other reasons why hearing loss has an improved image right now. In recent years, loss of hearing has been depicted with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few notable celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Of course, now we want to do everything 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 at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing care specialists and undergoing regular examinations. This will keep people hearing better and improve overall hearing health.