Conquering Social Stigmas of Hearing Aids

When people first learn of their hearing loss, they usually come to a fork in the road: live with it or treat it. A common choice for many is to ignore their hard-of-hearing troubles. After some time, it becomes evident that hearing is a necessary part of life. For many people, it can take up to seven years before they decide to pursue better hearing via hearing aids. Unfortunately, the terms “hearing loss” and “old age” have become interchangeable over time—a common misconception since hearing loss is capable of affecting any person at any point in time. In this article, we will be discussing the social stigmas associated with hearing aids

Where did the stigma come from?
Historically, hearing loss has been viewed as a disease. Moreover, hearing loss was also thought to have been a disability, because children in school who suffered from hearing loss faced academic adversity. According to the Journal of Medical

Professionals with Hearing Losses, people viewed the Deaf and hard-of-hearing “with a mixture of fear, scorn, distaste, misunderstanding and pity.” Many were under the misconception that those with hearing loss didn’t have the capacity to be educated, and it wasn’t until the mid-1700s that people began considering that youth were fully capable of academic success.

What many people don’t know is that hearing loss can affect anyone, and the issue can be very detrimental to a person’s self-esteem. Someone with hearing loss can become distant from family and friends because they have trouble comprehending conversations, and they may even be looked down upon by others.

Addressing the stigma
To overcome social stigma, you must first be an advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to let others know about your hearing loss. It might take some time before you address your situation as hearing loss, but when you decide to address the situation, don’t be afraid to discuss it with others. Follow these tips to talk about your hearing loss with loved ones:

  1. Begin by informing them of the condition. Tell them how you feel, and what the most challenging aspect of hearing loss may be.
  2. Ask them to come with you to an audiologist appointment or follow-up visit so that they can learn about hearing loss as well.
  3. Tell them what they can do to help the situation. 

Technological advances
Many people who have negative views of hearing loss may not understand the recent technological advances in hearing aids. Modern day hearing aids make it easier to hear in various settings, while being barely-visible. Whether you enjoy going out to the theater or love hiking, hearing aids have settings and features that make this possible.

Today, hearing aids can go virtually unnoticed, as some are so small that they fit all the way into the ear canal. If visibility of the hearing aid is something you worry about, you may be a candidate for less-visible styles of aids and can go about your daily life without others even noticing that you are wearing hearing aids. Additionally, settings and features like Bluetooth and telecoils help to make hearing aids a simple part of daily life.

Conquering the stigma
As people are getting educated on the condition, more people are becoming accepting and conscious of hearing loss. There has always been resistance of hearing aids, especially for someone who is getting a hearing aid for the first time.
According to audiologist Dr. Douglas Chen, “the size of the social stigma is out of proportion compared to that of eyeglasses, canes, walkers and wheelchairs.”

Thanks to modern technology, people who need hearing devices have more options available to them, which eliminates the stigma for users. Customizable hearing aids and digital settings make it a seamless transition, and instruments just continue to get more intelligent.

Making the leap to go to a healthy hearing professional can be scary, but it is a decision that will improve your quality of life. Do you have trouble talking with family members? Do you feel left out because you can’t understand what others can? Don’t wait any longer. Visiting an audiologist is the first step toward getting your hearing back.

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