Overcoming the Stigma Associated with Hearing Loss

Chances are you know someone with hearing loss. In the United States over 34 million people, roughly 1 in 10, have some level of hearing impairment. Hearing loss not only affects the individual who has hearing loss but those around them as well. Hearing loss can adversely affect your ability to interact with the world around you, leading to embarrassment, social isolation, negative workplace outcomes and relational stress.

The good news is that 95 percent of hearing losses can be treated with hearing aids. Yet fewer than 20 percent of people with hearing loss choose to correct it. So why don’t more people seek hearing help? 

People usually suffer needlessly for several years before they look for hearing help. A study published in 2010 by Margaret I. Wallhagen, Ph.D., found that the perceived stigma associated with hearing loss negatively impacts an individual’s initial acceptance of it and whether or not they choose to wear hearing aids.

The study found that hearing loss stigma is directly related to three main factors: alteration in self-perception, ageism, and vanity. Unfortunately, just the idea of wearing hearing aids was found to negatively change self-perception for participants in the study. Participants perceived themselves differently and worried about how they would be viewed by others if they wore hearing aids before they actually tried them. The study also found that the negative associations were markedly diminished if the hearing aids were discreet and unnoticeable.

The stigma associated with hearing loss and hearing aids often prevents a person from seeking hearing help. Typically the same people that worry needlessly are pleased to find that there are many discreet customizable options that greatly improve quality of life.

Don’t let the stigma prevent you from living life to the fullest. Sharing ideas and participating in activities depends greatly on your ability to hear.

Investing in better hearing should be a priority. If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing difficulties, don’t wait. You owe it to yourself and to those around you to hear your very best. There are a number of discreet customizable hearing solutions available. If you need assistance locating a provider or additional information on financing options, please contact us directly. If hearing aids have changed your or your loved one’s life for the better, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us your story!

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By Beth McCormick, Au.D.