Overcoming Social Stigmas

Rediscover Hearing by overcoming social stigmas of hearing aids

Every day we at Sonetik UK see the impact to people’s lives when they make the decision to rediscover hearing. Although the decision may seem like an obvious one to make, the negative stereotypes and stigmas often get in the way. On average, people take seven years to get hearing aids after noticing they have a hearing loss. Being hard of hearing poses many challenges for those who experience it, and can greatly affect their everyday lives. Hearing loss is also associated with old age, although people of all ages, even children, can have a loss of hearing.

Where did the stigma come from?
Historically, hearing loss has been seen as an ailment, and some even thought it was a disability because children who had hearing loss had trouble learning. People often viewed the deaf and hard of hearing "with a mixture of fear, scorn, distaste, misunderstanding and pity." Many were under the misconception that those with hearing loss didn't have the capacity to be educated, and it wasn't until the mid-1700s that people began considering that youth with hearing loss could in fact learn.

What many people don't know is that hearing loss can affect anyone, and the issue can be very detrimental, not only to a person's self esteem but also their cognitive function, and has been linked to serious conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Someone with hearing loss can become distant from family and friends due to the trouble they have comprehending conversations, and they may even be looked down upon by others.

Addressing the stigma
To overcome social stigma, you must first be an advocate for yourself. Don't be afraid to let others know about your hearing loss. Hiding the situation can make it worse because others may think you aren't paying attention to conversations. It might take some time before you address your situation as hearing loss, but when you decide to address the situation, don't be afraid to discuss it with others. Follow these tips to talk about your hearing loss with loved ones:

  • Begin by informing them of the condition. Tell them how you feel, and what the most challenging aspect of hearing loss may be. This is your chance to be an open book. 
  • Ask them to come with you to your FREE hearing check with a Sonetik audiologist at your local LloydsPharmacy so that they can learn about hearing loss as well.
  • Tell them what they can do to help the situation. For example, finding a quiet place in a restaurant will make it easier for you to hear versus a loud table in the middle of the establishment. Similarly, you might ask them to always look at you while speaking and to emphasize hand gestures and facial expressions.

Technological advances
Many people who have negative views of hearing loss may not understand that this doesn't mean you will be wearing bulky devices. Sonetik hearing aids make it easier to hear with background noise, to hear in auditorium or lecture hall settings and to maintain your pre-hearing aids lifestyle to its fullest. Whether you enjoy going out to the theater or love hiking, hearing aids have settings and features that make this possible.

Sonetik hearing aids can go virtually unnoticed, as they are so small that they fit into the ear. This in itself helps to decrease the negative connotation of the issue because people can go about their daily lives without others even noticing that they are wearing hearing aids. Additionally, settings and features like Bluetooth and telecoils help to make hearing aids a simple part of daily life, as available from the PROhear service.

Overcoming the stigma
As people are getting educated, they are becoming accepting and conscious of hearing loss. There has always been resistance of hearing aids, especially for someone who is getting a hearing aid for the first time.

According to audiologist Dr. Douglas Chen, "the size of the social stigma is out of proportion compared to that of eyeglasses, canes, walkers and wheelchairs."

Thanks to modern technology, people who need hearing devices have more options available to them, which eliminates the stigma for users as the instruments continue to get more intelligent.

Making the leap to go to a hearing professional can be scary, but it is a decision that will improve your quality of life. Do you have trouble talking with family members? Do you feel left out because you can't understand what others can? Don't wait any longer. Contacting Sonetik UK on 0800 774 75 75 to book an appointment with an audiologist is the first step toward getting your hearing back.

The original article can be found here