John’s been experiencing difficulty hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing examination. 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 getting help.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his views are outdated. Because the stigma about loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with younger people, it’s much less evident, even though you may still see it to some degree in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, incorrect and not beneficial. For some, hearing loss might be seen as an indication of aging or a loss of vitality. People are often worried that they may lose social standing if others find out they have hearing loss. They feel they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous problem, isolated from reality. But for individuals who are attempting to cope with hearing loss there are some very real consequences. Some examples include:
- Relationship problems (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Delaying proper care of hearing loss (resulting in less than optimal results or needless struggling).
- Setbacks in your job (perhaps you missed an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are quite a few more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, this is all transforming, 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 a number of reasons. Our connection to technology along with demographic changes in our population have started to change how we experience things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent in Younger People
Possibly the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming increasingly common, especially among younger people (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not kids).
Most statistical research put the number of people with hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud sound from multiple sources seems to be the biggest factor), but the point is that hearing loss is more common now than it ever has been in the past.
There is more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Possibly you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing issue. 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 before and in the majority of circumstances are very subtle.
But often hearing aids go unnoticed because these days, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so no one cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has an improved image right now. In recent years, loss of hearing has been depicted with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few prominent celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss stories.
There will continue to be less stigma about hearing loss the more we see 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 combating against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel secure scheduling an appointment with their professionals and having frequent screenings. This can help enhance overall hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.