Fashion or Frustration

Posted by Living Sounds

One of the most common barriers for individuals dealing with a hearing loss is getting past the stigma of wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids often have a negative connotation, whether it is because they are associated with aging or because they are not regarded as being “fashionable.”  The stigma surrounding hearing loss and hearing aids begins as early as elementary school and can carry on through the ages, but why?

It is true that hearing loss is more common as we age, but this is also the case with vision loss. In the past, glasses carried a stigma as well. Glasses had large frames and thick lenses and people dreaded the thought of wearing them. Over time glasses have become a fashion statement with some people wearing frames with clear lenses or no lenses at all. Hearing aids are also moving beyond the large bulky styles of yesterday. Today, hearing aids are small, sleek, technological marvels. There are different styles, colors and sizes to choose from. Depending on the hearing loss, some are almost invisible.

Hearing loss is called an invisible condition yet its impact on our personality is very visible. Often hiding a hearing loss is more obvious than wearing a hearing aid. We give the wrong answer to a question, we nod and bluff our way through conversations and before we know it, we are too embarrassed to join the conversation. This embarrassment leads to the avoidance of social situations. We turn down dinner invitations, stop going to book clubs and avoid meeting friends for coffee. Hearing loss causes us to step out of conversations and become a spectator instead of a participant. Our loved ones feel the withdrawal and notice the missteps in conversation.

Once an individual accepts that they have a hearing loss and decides to take action, wearing a hearing aid can be quite liberating. It does not take long before the benefit of the hearing aid outweighs the perceived stigma attached. Perhaps it is time to change this stigma, embrace the benefits of the hearing aid and step back into the conversation. Perhaps it is time to start a new trend.

Amanda McLeod, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

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