John’s having problems at work because he doesn’t always make out conversations. He’s in denial and continues telling himself that everyone is mumbling. Besides, he feels he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing examination. But in the meantime, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by pumping up the volume on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has stopped him from looking for effective solutions.
But John’s perspective is older than he thinks. Hearing loss doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less pronounced, even though you might still see it to some degree in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, hearing loss has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. For some people, loss of hearing might be seen 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 like they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
This problem might be thought of as unimportant and not connected to reality. But for people who are attempting to deal with hearing loss there are some very real repercussions. Including these examples:
- Relationship obstacles (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Obstacles in your job (Maybe you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some important facts).
- Avoiding hearing loss treatment (resulting in less than ideal results or unnecessary suffering).
- 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 continue for some time, but you most likely get the idea.
Thankfully, this is all changing, and it genuinely does seem as though the stigma around loss of hearing is fading away.
The Passing of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are various significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is decreasing. Population demographics are transforming and so is our connection to technology.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Maybe the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more prevalent, particularly among younger individuals (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not kids).
Most statistical research report the number of individuals who have loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (noise from a number of sources appears to be the largest problem), but the main point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever was in the past.
As hearing loss becomes more common, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and misinformation concerning hearing problems.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first set of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted wearing them. But today hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in the majority of cases are very discreet.
But hearing aids also often go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Everyone is used to having technology so nobody cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Change in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has an improved image these days. Recently, hearing loss has been depicted with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and several prominent celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding hearing loss 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 combating against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma goes away, more people will feel secure scheduling an appointment with their hearing care specialists and having frequent exams. This will help enhance overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.