John’s having a hard time at work because he can’t always hear conversations. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. What’s more, he believes he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing exam. But in the meantime, he’s been doing considerable harm to his ears by pumping up on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging that he has loss of hearing has prevented him from looking for practical solutions.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his ideas are antiquated. Because the stigma concerning hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less evident, even though you might still see it to some degree in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The social and cultural connections with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, not true and not beneficial. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. The concern is that you’ll lose some social standing if you disclose you have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you seem older or not as “with it”.
You could be tempted to think of this stigma as a rather amorphous issue, detached from reality. But there are some very real implications for people who are trying to cope with the stigma around hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Job setbacks (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you missed some significant facts).
- Setbacks in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Putting of on hearing loss management (causing unnecessary struggling and undesirable results).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are many more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, this is all transforming, and it really does seem as if the stigma around loss of hearing is fading away.
The Demise of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are several substantial reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Our relationship with technology along with demographic changes in our population have begun to alter how we feel about things like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more frequently and that could certainly be the biggest reason for the decrease in the stigma associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens deal with loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to entering into here (noise from many sources seems to be the biggest problem), but the point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever was before.
As hearing loss becomes more common, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing issues.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were worried they would be a noticeable indication that you have a hearing condition. But today hearing aids almost blend in completely. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But hearing aids also frequently go unnoticed because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you’ve got a tiny piece of helpful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
Obviously, those two reasons are not the exclusive causes for the retreat of hearing loss stigma. Recently, hearing loss has been portrayed with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and several notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma about loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. 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 secure making an appointment with their hearing specialist and getting routine exams. This can help improve general hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.