John’s having problems at work because he can’t always make out conversations. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. He thinks that you should be older to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing test. But in the meantime, he’s been doing considerable damage to his ears by turning up on his earbuds. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking out help.
But John’s mindset is older than he recognizes. Because the stigma around hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Particularly, with the younger generation, it’s far less pronounced, though you may still encounter it to some extent in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
The social and cultural associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, false and not beneficial. For some people, loss of hearing might be viewed as a sign of aging or a loss of vigor. The anxiety is that you’ll lose some social status if you admit you have loss of hearing. They feel they may look old and come off as less “cool”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous concern, isolated from reality. But there are some very real consequences for individuals who are attempting to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Some examples include:
- Delaying management of loss of hearing (causing needless troubled and poor results).
- Relationship challenges (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Setbacks in your job (Maybe you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some essential facts).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, 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 point.
Fortunately, changes are occurring, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is really going away.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is happening for a number of reasons. Population demographics are changing and so is our relationship with 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 starting to be increasingly common, particularly among younger individuals (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens have loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud sound from many sources appears to be the largest factor), but the main point is that hearing loss is more common now than it ever was before.
There is more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more common.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were concerned that your first set of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But now hearing aids almost blend in completely. No one really even sees them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most cases are very discreet.
But hearing aids also commonly go unobserved because today, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Obviously, those two factors are not the exclusive causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally understood about hearing loss and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
There will continue to be less stigma about hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent hearing loss in every way that we can. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while battling against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel comfortable scheduling an appointment with their professionals and having frequent screenings. This will help improve general hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.