Hearing loss is common, affecting an estimated 48 million people across the nation. Yet despite its prevalence, only about one in five people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one. One suspected reason for this is the stigma around hearing loss and hearing aids.
What the Studies Show
Not only is there anecdotal evidence about this stigma, but at least one study has confirmed that stigma around hearing aids is linked to feelings of altered self-perception, including being perceived as “abled” versus “disabled” and “intelligent” versus “cognitively impaired.” These shifts in self-perception are enough to keep people from seeking treatment they need for hearing loss.
In addition to shifts in perceptions, two other factors contributing to stigma around hearing aids include ageism and vanity. In fact, one survey showed that people avoid hearing aids because they are “noticeable,” “embarrassing to wear” at Giving Hope Bingo, “make you look old” or “people treat you differently/make fun of you.” Both of these factors are linked to ableism and Western culture’s obsession with youth.
Besides, consider what is more noticeable: wear a sleek piece of technology in or behind your ear, or constantly asking people to repeat themselves and responding incorrectly because you can’t understand what was said?
Importance of Overcoming Stigma
Buying into this stigma can be costly. In addition to contributing to injurious falls, depression and anxiety, untreated hearing loss is linked to increased risk of cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Hearing aids can help. Not only are today’s hearing aids designed to be sleek and discreet, they boast amazing features such as Bluetooth connectivity, directional microphones, background noise reduction, automatic programming, smartphone compatibility and more.
How to Fight the Stigma
The first and most important step in overcoming stigma surrounding hearing aids is to accept your hearing loss and the need for treatment. It’s normal to grieve the loss of your hearing, but it’s important to take the next steps, too. For more information about the benefits of hearing aids or to schedule an appointment with a hearing aid expert, call Ear, Nose & Throat Consultants today.