Breaking the stigma of hearing loss

✓ Evidence Based

Did you know that there are 466 million people worldwide with hearing loss? If you think you may have hearing loss, you are certainly not alone . [1]

Oticon_Opn_IIC_in_Hand_Width300mm_300dpi_NDS_175751Research shows that many of those who do not seek treatment have some perceived stigmas surrounding hearing loss. It is important to note that such stigmas are often related to the way that others see them. However, often this stigma is more of a “perceived” stigma than an actual stigma. The ability to converse with others and enjoy our relationships and experiences fully is key to enjoying our lives to the fullest. Therefore, understanding the perceived stigmas and how to move past them are paramount in moving forward and seeking the support one can receive from hearing aids.

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The perceived stigmas are related to 3 experiences [2] :

• Alterations in self-perception: This form of stigma relates to the way in which people expect they will be perceived if they have hearing aids. They are concerned that wearing a hearing aid might make them seem old or disabled.

• Ageism: Ageism is a perceived stigma form that relates to a concern that others will perceive them as being old. Even though one may enjoy the process of ageing, they are still hesitant to be labelled in the “elderly group” because they are aware of the various stigmas that can be attached to old age.

• Vanity: Within the vanity stigma lies the concern that they might seem less attractive if they begin to wear a hearing aid. The irony of these stigmas is that waiting to get hearing aids when a hearing loss is present could lead to hearing loss becoming more severe at an earlier age, which could lead to one seeming even older or even more disabled.

Treating hearing loss as early as possible is key to living a fulfilling life. It is important for those suffering with hearing loss to move past these stigmas as treating hearing loss will help those with hearing difficulties to get their life back on track and potentially feel younger and attractive again due to a renewed self-confidence in everyday life.

Consequences of untreated hearing loss
Support for a loved one with hearing loss could help to facilitate one’s decision to seek out a hearing test and potential hearing aid options. When children, siblings, partners, parents, etc. get involved in encouraging their loved one to seek professional advice for the sake of their quality of life (both for the individual and their friends and family), the individual may be more inclined to take the next step – since such a revelation helps them to see the bigger picture and how their hearing loss could also be affecting the relationships of those closest to them.

If you or a loved one have been hesitating to seek professional help for a potential hearing loss, remember:
• Testing your hearing loss and / or getting hearing aids is a step which can help you or a loved one lead a more fulfilled life.
• Ultimately, moving past the concerns connected with perceived stigmas will help you to realize that many of these perceived stigmas are not entirely true.
• Most importantly, bettering your hearing will help you to feel better. When you feel better, those around you feel better too.[3]

Do you know someone you suspect suffers from hearing loss?

If you think you may have signs of hearing loss, contact a hearing aid audiologist expert in your local area to schedule a free hearing test today .

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