Ever since the first electric hearing aid was invented in 1898, people have been embarrassed and even afraid to be seen wearing one. Of course, the hearing aids of a century ago were clunky and unsightly, so wearing them carried a stigma. The devices provided instant admission into the “getting old club,” even for those who still felt young and socially active.
But modern hearing solutions and social awareness are removing this stigma while giving individuals with hearing loss the ability to hear clearly again.
Let’s explore how those old perceptions have changed for the better.
A stigma study
A study published in the Oxford Academic in 2009 explored the stigma that prevents many older adults from wearing hearing aids. The study found hearing loss often leads to social isolation, frustration, and even danger for those who can’t hear high-frequency sirens or fire alarms.
As many as 50% of adults older than 75 are experiencing disabling hearing loss. By age 60, nearly 80% of adults have lost their high-frequency hearing. That means they are unable to hear birds chirping, children playing, high-pitched voices, and the music they love.
Individuals who have their hearing loss treated live longer, more connected lives. Unfortunately, only about 20% of those who would benefit from hearing aids actually seek treatment.
The researchers involved with the Oxford Academic study wanted to know why.
Some participants claimed hearing aids were too expensive. Others were in denial about their hearing loss. But the most common reason for not having their hearing loss treated was the stigma attached to wearing hearing aids. The study’s participants were depriving themselves of hearing loss treatment because of how they thought they would be perceived by loved ones and society.
The way hearing aids are perceived is slowly and steadily changing. As devices become more discreet, wireless, technologically-advanced, and affordable, the number of people wearing hearing devices is increasing exponentially.
In the last few years alone, important advances have been made in hearing aid technology.
The shifting perception of hearing aid wearers may also be attributed to the increased number of devices 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 health apps on a smartphone.
Most people recognize the benefits of wearing hearing aids greatly outweigh any perceived drawbacks. Those imagined stigmas all dissolve once individuals with hearing loss experience how wonderful it is to hear clearly again.
What would it feel like to not have to ask others to repeat themselves? What intricate sounds have you forgotten about because you’ve been living without them for so long?
When people wear hearing aids, they no longer feel left out of conversations or mentally exhausted in group settings. They feel younger and better equipped to live the active lifestyles they want to live.
Be part of the solution
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to stay involved with the things you love to do. It’s possible for you to feel younger and more alert. You can spend time enjoying music, movies, events, and conversations again.
If you’re afraid to wear a hearing aid, you should talk to a hearing specialist about hearing loss treatment options. You’ll be amazed to find out how fantastic you will feel by simply getting your hearing back. By wearing your new device, you will also be helping to end the stigma previously attached to wearing hearing aids.