John’s having difficulties at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. Besides, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing test. But in the meantime, he’s been doing considerable damage to his ears by pumping up the volume on his earbuds. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has prevented him from looking for practical treatments.
But John’s attitude is more outdated than he believes. Because the stigma around loss of hearing is becoming less common. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less pronounced, though you might still encounter it to some extent in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
The social and cultural connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, not true and not helpful. For many, loss of hearing may be viewed as an indication of old age or a loss of vigor. People are frequently concerned that they could lose social standing if others recognize they suffer from hearing loss. 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 problem, isolated from reality. But there are some very real implications for people who are trying to deal with the stigma around hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Challenges in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Delaying management of loss of hearing (leading to unnecessary troubled and poor outcomes).
- Setbacks in your career (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you missed some crucial facts).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are numerous more examples but the point is well made.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Declining?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for several reasons. Our connection to technology and also demographic transformations in our population have started to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Youth
Younger adults are dealing with 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 report the number of people who suffer from hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to get into here (noise from multiple sources seems to be the primary problem), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever has been before.
There’s more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more common.
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 wearing them. But today hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But hearing aids also often go unobserved because these days, everyone has something in their ears. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you have a little piece of useful technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Naturally, those two factors are not the exclusive causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we are trying to do everything we can to prevent hearing loss. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while battling against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This can help enhance overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.