Ever since the first “modern” hearing aid was invented in the late 1800’s, people have been embarrassed and even afraid to wear a hearing aid. For one, they were clunky and unsightly.
And secondly, they seemed like an instant admission into the “getting older club” when you still feel young and socially active.
Wearing a hearing aid had a stigma associated with it. A stigma is a belief that someone who possesses a particular quality or characteristic is somehow inferior to others.
But modern hearing solutions and social awareness are helping to dissolve this stigma while giving people with hearing loss a chance to hear clearly again.
Let’s explore how perceptions are changing for the better.
A Stigma Study
A study published in the Oxford Academic in 2010 sought to explore the stigma that many older adults feel prevents them from wearing a hearing aid. They made a note of the fact that hearing loss leads to social isolation, frustration and even danger if someone can’t hear a high-frequency siren or fire alarm.
As many as 50% of adults over 75 have significant hearing loss. And by age 60, nearly 80% of adults have lost their high-frequency hearing. That’s the sound of birds chirping, children playing, many voices and music we’d like not to be without.
They found that people who get hearing loss treated live longer more connected lives. But they found something very peculiar.
Only around 20% of people who could benefit from hearing solutions like hearing aids actually sought treatment.
They wanted to know why.
Some claimed that hearing aids cost too much. Others were in denial. But the most common reason for not getting their hearing restored was the stigma of wearing a hearing aid. The study participants were depriving themselves of hearing because of how they thought they would be perceived by loved ones and society.
2010 wasn’t very long ago, but perceptions are slowly but steadily changing. As devices become more discreet, wireless, better functioning and affordable, the numbers taking advantage of hearing devices increases.
2016 and 2017 were big years for this assistive technology.
We might also be able to attribute this shifting perception to the increased numbers of devices that people of all ages and abilities are now wearing and using. It’s not uncommon to see someone wearing a heart rate or glucose monitor, or using assistive apps on their smartphone.
People recognize that the benefits greatly outweigh any perceived setbacks. Many are coming to realize that those imagined stigmas dissolve once they experience how great it is to hear clearly again.
What would it feel like to no longer have to ask others to repeat themselves? What little intricacies of sound have you forgotten that you’re living without?
When people can use a hearing aid to no longer feel left out of conversations or mentally exhausted in group settings, they feel younger and better equipped to live the active lifestyle they want to live.
Be Part of the Solution
Stay involved in the things you love. Feel younger and more alert. Spend time enjoying music, movies, events, and conversations with those close to you. Help fight any remnants of the stigma that may remain.
If you’re still afraid to wear a hearing aid talk to an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist about hearing solutions we know you’re going to like. And find out how great you can feel just by getting your hearing back.