John’s been having difficulty hearing at work. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. He thinks that you should be older to wear hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding seeking out a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing test. Regrettably, he’s been pumping up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant harm to his ears. So, sadly, his denial has prevented him from seeking out help.
But John’s outlook is older than he believes. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less evident, though you may still encounter it to some extent in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
Put simply, hearing loss has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. People are often worried that they might lose social standing if others discover they have hearing loss. They feel they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous problem, separated from reality. But for individuals who are attempting to deal with hearing loss there are some very real repercussions. Including these examples:
- Setbacks in your career (possibly you didn’t hear an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Avoiding hearing loss management (causing unnecessary struggling and poor outcomes).
- Setbacks in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for some time, but you most likely get the idea.
Fortunately, changes are taking place, and it really does seem as if the stigma over hearing loss is on its way out.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for a number of reasons. Population demographics are changing and so is our perception of technology.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more often and that could certainly be the leading reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical studies put the number of individuals who dealing with hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. In all probability, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the leading reason why this loss of hearing is more prevalent than it’s ever been.
As loss of hearing becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing conditions.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first set of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But now hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one really even is aware of them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But in many cases hearing aids go undetected because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you’ve got a little piece of practical technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has an improved image these days. Much more is commonly understood about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
The more we see hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to prevent loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel comfortable making an appointment with their professionals and having frequent screenings. This can help enhance overall hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.