John’s having a hard time at work because he can’t always make out conversations. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. Besides, he believes he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by turning up on his earbuds. Sadly, his reluctance to admitting that he has loss of hearing has prevented him from looking for effective solutions.
But John’s perspective is older than he realizes. Because the stigma concerning hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less evident, even though you might still see it to some degree in some circles. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, false and not beneficial. Loss of vigor and aging are sometimes associated with loss of hearing. People are commonly concerned that they might lose social status if others know they have hearing loss. They feel like they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as unimportant and not connected to reality. But for people who are trying to deal with hearing loss there are some very real repercussions. Here are some examples:
- Career setbacks (perhaps you missed a critical sentence in a business meeting).
- Challenges in your relationships (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Putting of on hearing loss management (leading to less than optimal results or needless struggling).
- 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 a while, but at this point you probably get the idea.
Luckily, this is all transforming, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Diminishing?
This decline in hearing loss stigma is taking place for a variety of reasons. Our relationship with technology combined with demographic transformations in our population have started to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are suffering from loss of hearing more often and that could very well be the biggest reason for the decrease in the stigma connected to it.
34 million U.S. citizens have hearing loss according to most statical research, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud sound from a number of 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.
There is more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were worried they would be an obvious indication that you have a hearing problem But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids virtually entirely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most cases are very discreet.
But in many cases hearing aids go undetected because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to having technology so no one is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has an improved image lately. Recently, hearing loss has been portrayed with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular society, and several prominent celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss stories.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding 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. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be ideal.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing care specialists and having normal examinations. This can help improve general hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.