Overcoming the Stigma Surrounding Hearing Loss
Only 20% of individuals with hearing loss choose to correct it, meaning 80% of hearing loss-sufferers are missing out on conversations, the finer details in music — not to mention potential warning sounds in hazardous situations such as traffic. So why — according to Oxford’s The Gerontologist journal — do only 20% seek treatment?
It is a unique feature of hearing loss that many who suffer from it would rather deny they have a problem and even refuse to wear a hearing aid they’ve purchased because they feel a certain stigma is attached to it. It doesn’t seem logical – after all, even people who don’t need glasses sometimes wear them as a trendy accessory; people who are on crutches or a wheelchair don’t hesitate to use these aids. Why do negative perceptions persist of those with hearing loss or who wear a hearing aid? In Calgary, Soundwave Hearing Care offers a number of discreet hearing aid models — so discreet in fact, that only you and your closest companions will know you have them.
Why Hearing Loss is Stigmatized
At our Calgary hearing aid and audiology clinic, we understand that acknowledging hearing loss is difficult for many people. Psychologists and audiologists have reached near-unanimous agreement that the problem stems at least partly from the fact that you cannot actually see the disability with hearing loss – so the effects of hearing loss, such as not responding to a question or needing to have something repeated, are incorrectly attributed to lack of attention or mental disability.
The second reason hearing loss is stigmatized is that many people incorrectly assume hearing loss only happens to elderly people. Wearing a hearing aid is felt to be a sign of ageing, something our youth-oriented society tries to deny as long as possible. “But, I’m only [insert age here]. I’m too young to have hearing loss.” is a common phrase heard by audiologists. This would be the same as saying, “But, I’m too young to have a broken bone!” There are dozens of causes for hearing loss and only a few of these are related to age.
Read our “6 Myths About Hearing Loss” article for more stigma-busters!
Hearing Loss Is Stigmatized – but So Is the Solution
Yes, this is a double whammy. Both the problem, hearing loss, and the solution, wearing a hearing aid, are falsely perceived as signs of age and decreasing abilities. A study led by Margaret I. Wallhagen, Ph.D., tied the stigmatization of wearing hearing aids to three main factors: vanity, self-perception, and ageism — although all three of these could be lumped into one broad category of “perception of self.”
…But it Doesn’t Have to Be that Way
There is a marked shift in public perception towards all types of disabilities, including hearing loss and the use of hearing aids. Not only is hearing loss becoming less stigmatized, but hearing aids are also becoming less noticeable. Many people faced with hearing loss dread wearing those large beige plastic devices of yesteryear – they aren’t aware of the latest technologies in hearing aids because the newer styles are virtually undetectable!
At Soundwave Hearing Care, the Calgary hearing aid and audiology clinic, patients have the option of several discreet hearing aid styles that fit snugly inside or around the ear canal. These are known as “in-the-canal” (ITC) and “completely-in-canal” (CIC) hearing aids. In fact, most people won’t know you’re wearing a hearing aid at all.
Margaret I. Wallhagen’s 2010 study found that users who wore discreet hearing aids also felt less self-conscious about wearing them.
What Really Matters
Chances are there are many people you know who wear a hearing aid in Calgary, but you’ve never noticed because the devices have become that discreet. There are also a number of assistive devices that tie seamlessly into your electronics so you can stay in touch with your family and friends and enjoy the same activities as you have always done: listening to music, watching TV and going to the theater can continue to be enjoyable experiences and, with your hearing aid in place, you can share the experience comfortably with others. When we have made so many advances in dealing with hearing loss, you shouldn’t let the stigma associated with hearing aids stop you from experiencing your life to the fullest.
Have Your Hearing Tested — Your Hearing Loss May Not Require Hearing Aids
Not all types of hearing loss require hearing aids. Excessive ear wax and other conditions can all cause a temporary loss in hearing. The only way to resolve your hearing issue is to first get tested. Call Soundwave Hearing Care to schedule your hearing test, today! Visit one of our four convenient locations in Alberta: Calgary, Grande Prairie, High River and Lethbridge.
How Are You Reducing the Stigma?
We love how Jeana Chavez is breaking down the stigma associated with hearing loss with her art.
"I wanted to combine two things I love into one design-- my love for my hearing aids and my love for Disney! This has been a project I've been working on for awhile, hope you all like it! This piece says 'Dream Big' a motto we all should live by everyday. The artwork I made is inspired by Disney Princesses rocking their over the ear hearing aids :)♥️ "