John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is mumbling. Besides, he thinks he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing test and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by cranking up the volume on his earbuds. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his viewpoints are outdated. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less common. Particularly, with the younger generation, it’s much less pronounced, even though you might still encounter it to some degree in some circles. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always fundamentally helpful or true. For many, hearing loss may be seen as an indication of old age or a loss of vigor. The fear is that you’ll lose some social standing if you disclose you have loss of hearing. Some might think that hearing aids make you appear old or not as “cool”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous problem, separated from reality. But for people who are attempting to cope with hearing loss there are some very genuine consequences. Including these examples:
- Occupation obstacles (maybe you missed a critical sentence in a company meeting).
- Avoiding hearing loss management (leading to less than ideal outcomes or unnecessary struggling).
- Relationship setbacks (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for quite some time, but you most likely get it.
Thankfully, this is all changing, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for several reasons. Population demographics are changing and so is our perception of technology.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Youth
Maybe the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be increasingly prevalent, especially with younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not kids).
34 million U.S. citizens deal with hearing loss according to most statical studies, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (noise from many sources appears to be the biggest problem), but the main point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever was before.
There’s more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Perhaps you were worried that your first set of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But now hearing aids almost blend in completely. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most cases are very discreet.
But hearing aids also commonly go unnoticed because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to having technology so nobody cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Naturally, those two factors are not the exclusive causes behind the retreat of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, loss of hearing has been depicted with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular society, and several prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss stories.
There will continue to be less stigma about loss of hearing the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent loss of hearing in every way that we can. 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 comfortable scheduling an appointment with their hearing care specialists and having normal examinations. This can help improve general hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.