John’s been having problems hearing at work. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is mumbling. What’s more, he thinks he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable damage to his ears. So, unfortunately, his denial has stopped him from seeking out help.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his ideas are outdated. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it used to. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less pronounced, even though you may still see it to some extent in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
The social and cultural connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, incorrect and not beneficial. For some, loss of hearing might be regarded as an indication of old age or a loss of vitality. People are often worried that they could lose social status if others discover they have hearing loss. They feel like they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous issue, detached from reality. But there are certain very real implications for people who are attempting to deal with the stigma of 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 hearing loss (resulting in less than ideal results or unnecessary struggling).
- Career setbacks (maybe you didn’t hear a significant sentence in a company meeting).
- 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 quite a few more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, changes are taking place, and it really does seem as though the stigma over loss of hearing is on its way out.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is happening for a number of reasons. Population demographics are changing as is our relationship with technology.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent in Younger People
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more often and that could certainly be the leading reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens are dealing with hearing loss according to most statical research, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. Most likely, loud noises from many modern sources are the leading reason why this loss of hearing is more widespread than ever before.
There is more discussion and knowledge about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But now hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most cases are very discreet.
But often hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
There are other factors for why hearing loss has an improved image lately. Much more is generally comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
There will continue to be less stigma about loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Of course, now we want to do all we can to stop hearing loss. If we could determine a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel comfortable making an appointment with their professionals and getting routine screenings. This will keep everyone hearing better and improve overall hearing health.