Handsome elderly man inserting his slim and sleek Lexie Lumen hearing aids while breaking the stigma of hearing aids

The Stigma Surrounding Hearing Loss

There are many factors that may influence your acceptance of hearing loss. These may include your own or the perceptions of others. Most people may not realize that they are struggling with hearing difficulties, however, some may know it and choose not to do anything about it. Like with any other ailment of the body, the longer you leave something untreated, the more difficult it becomes to treat at a later stage. The stigma of hearing loss may prohibit some individuals with a hearing impairment to get the treatment they need. Some of these stigmas include the following.

“But I am not old”

Many people assume that hearing loss or the use of hearing aids applies only to the elderly. You may feel like wearing hearing aids makes you look old whilst you believe you are otherwise young and fit. Hearing loss can be age-related, but it can also be present in a newborn baby. As with visual difficulties, people of all ages can present with some degree of hearing difficulty. You may use spectacles to assist you with visual difficulties, the use of hearing aids for hearing difficulties follows a similar concept.

“It’s embarrassing”

We all like to look good, and as we age, we try to take the best care of ourselves. Many people have said that they would be embarrassed to wear hearing aids. Have you considered the number of times you have had to ask someone to repeat themselves or the number of times you have misheard something which may have escalated into an argument with your loved ones? Have you felt flushed when you were at a restaurant and someone was waiting for a reply but you didn’t hear the question? Or perhaps you thought you heard something completely different from what they actually asked and answered incorrectly, leaving you feeling embarrassed and frustrated with yourself. A patient once said that it is far more embarrassing to struggle to hear people during a conversation than to wear a hearing aid. Hearing aids, like spectacles, are becoming more mainstream than ever, and one never needs to feel embarrassed for using one.

“It’s not for me”

Often, the person with hearing loss doesn’t realize they are struggling to hear. Their loved ones or other people in their immediate environment would notice it first. That is often why it takes some time for people to come to terms with the fact that they are experiencing hearing loss. The hearing aids are not only there to help you to hear better, but they are also there for all the people around you for them to communicate with you more effectively. They are able to have deep and meaningful conversations with you being assured that you are following them correctly. So even if you feel you can manage without help, do it for the people around you, in order for you to not miss out on what they have to say.

“Hearing aids are big and ugly”

Back in the day, technology, in general, was not as advanced as it is now. Hearing aids these days are tiny sophisticated pieces of technology that are able to process information very fast. They are able to assist with simple one-on-one conversations in quiet environments and complex group conversations in a noisy restaurant setting. Due to the fact that everyone is different, hearing aids now have the ability to process information differently for diverse listening environments and listening preferences.

Even though they have become more sophisticated, hearing aids have also become much smaller and more discreet over the years. Hearing aids have Bluetooth capabilities built into them so you can use an app on your cellphone to control and adjust the hearing aids. You can also use the hearing aids as a wireless device to listen to music, videos, etc from a cellphone, tablet, and other devices. Some hearing aids are able to track your steps, monitor your heart rate, and detect a possible fall, which is more common as you age, in order to alert an emergency contact person. Hearing aids have therefore become more than just devices to help you hear better, they open up a whole new world of possibilities!

Consequences

Research has suggested that because of the hearing difficulties people experience, they may begin shying away from social interaction, group activities, family dinners, etc. This avoidance behavior is a direct result of hearing difficulties experienced in those environments. Consequently, the person’s quality of life starts being affected and they are no longer as socially active as they used to be. You wouldn’t allow anything else to compromise your quality of life, don’t let hearing loss do that.

How to break the stigma

The best way to defeat the stigma of hearing loss and hearing aids is to talk about it. The more we talk about it, the more we normalize it. It is important to share information and your experience with hearing loss with people to raise awareness about it. That is why we have created the Lexie Hearing Library where you can find valuable hearing loss, hearing aid, and communication information. If you have hearing loss, tell your family, friends, and colleagues. If people know that you have a hearing difficulty, they may automatically start using strategies to help you to understand them better. These may include, facing you when talking to you, minimizing background noise, talking clearly, etc. Hearing assistive devices are available in many colors and some people have embraced their hearing aids by choosing bright pink, purple or black. It doesn’t matter what color hearing aids you go for, what matters is that you find out more about your hearing ability and look at all the possible options in order to help you hear better.

Hema Thakor

Written byHema Thakor

B. Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

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