John’s been experiencing problems hearing at work. But he feels like it might be everyone else not speaking clearly. He believes that you have to be older to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been avoiding a hearing exam. Regrettably, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant harm to his ears. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has prevented him from seeking out effective treatments.
But John’s mindset is older than he recognizes. Because the stigma about loss of hearing is becoming less common. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less pronounced, though you may still encounter it to some extent in some groups. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The social and cultural connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, false and not beneficial. For many, hearing loss might be viewed as a sign of aging or a loss of vitality. The anxiety is that you’ll lose some social standing if you admit you have loss of hearing. They feel they may look old and come off as less “cool”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, isolated from reality. But for individuals who are attempting to cope with hearing loss there are some very real repercussions. Including these examples:
- Setbacks in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Putting off management of hearing loss (causing needless struggling and poor outcomes).
- Setbacks in your job (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some important information).
- 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 quite some time, but you most likely get the idea.
Thankfully, this is all changing, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various major reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Population demographics are transforming as is our connection to technology.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Youth
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more frequently and that could very well be the number one reason for the decline in the stigma connected to it.
Most statistical research put the number of individuals with loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. In all likelihood, loud sounds from many modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more widespread than ever 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 worried that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly blend entirely in. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most situations are very discreet.
But hearing aids also often go undetected because today, everyone has something in their ears. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you’ve got a small piece of helpful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
There are other factors for why hearing loss has a better image these days. Much more is generally understood about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we see 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. If we could find a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing specialist and getting frequent screenings. This can help enhance general hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.