Time to Read: 4 minutes
There are three main reasons why people don't wear hearing aids.
Funnily enough, 'having normal hearing' is not on the list.
Researchers have explored the subject and have come up with a list to which all hearing health professionals can readily attest from their own experience.
The three main reasons why people don't wear hearing aids are:
Self-perception is to someone's internal perception, as a mirror is to their external perception.
Some people don't like the thought of wearing hearing aids - as though a hearing device somehow makes them feel less vital.
That self-perception leads to feeling shame about their condition and in turn leads them to avoid doing anything about their hearing.
That denial can go on for years until the hearing loss becomes more obvious to others. The emotional and psychological cost of doing nothing about it, is more than the cost of buying and wearing hearing aids.
“Hearing aids are only for old people” - that is an example of ageism. The truth is anyone, at any age, can have hearing loss - right from new-borns to people in their very senior years.
Yes, sensorineural hearing loss is more common for those over 60, particularly men. This leads to a twofold denial - first of the hearing loss itself, and second of the advance of Father Time.
Many of us are very good at deluding ourselves into thinking that the march of time has not encroached on us.. Hearing aids appear to be a reminder of the passage of years.
Often that comes from one’s own memory of seeing hearing aids - particularly older models which were large and obvious. None of which are true of today's hearing aids.
Vanity is the external perception of ourselves - the image we want to project to the world. We often see reluctant clients grudgingly acknowledge that they need hearing aids, but will only consider ones which are ‘invisible’. Hearing aids should be selected on the basis of being the right one for your hearing loss. The size of the aid is very much secondary.
But times are changing
The cost of ignoring hearing loss is very high - loneliness, depression, social anxiety, dementia - but it is a price which doesn’t have to be paid.
Fortunately, we’re beginning to see attitudes to hearing loss and hearing aids change, thanks to better education and the popularity of wireless earbuds and other ‘hearable’ technology. Now having something in your ears is not an automatic marker of being 'old'.
People who decide to get hearing aids and wear them daily have had a change of mindset, they’ve turned those three concerns - self-perception, ageism and vanity - on their head.
Their self-perception has changed from being a ‘victim’ of hearing loss to a person who is empowered to maximise their best possible hearing with the latest technology. They know that hearing loss does not change their worth as a person. They see hearing aids as no big deal - it’s just another tool to help them do what they want to do. In fact, hearing aids make it easier for them because they are less tired from trying to concentrate. They can more easily participate in conversations and fully enjoy an active social life.
Embrace your experience
Age is just a number. But as the years go on, it is important to do more to take good care of your health - and that includes your hearing. There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the latest technology in hearing to help you hear better. The 'thing' which makes you ‘old’ is attitude.
Being unable to keep up with the younger members of the family makes you feel old.
- Feeling as though you’re always a couple of seconds behind everyone else in conversation makes you feel old.
- Experiencing exhaustion after catching up with a group of friends because you need to intensely concentrate on conversations makes you feel old.
Studies have shown people who have their hearing corrected with hearing aids experience less social anxiety, loneliness and depression compared to those with untreated hearing loss.
Engage with life
Which is more vain?
Pretending to hear better than you actually do? Or wearing hearing aids to fully enjoy conversations?
The truth is, no one is going to think less of you for doing something about your hearing loss.
In fact, family and friends are going to be delighted when you tell them - and you will have to tell them because they’re not likely to even notice you’re wearing hearing aids. Modern aids are substantially smaller than they used to be. Even the behind the ear hearing aids are so small that no one can see you wear them.
As you can see, there is no excuse for not addressing hearing loss but if you have a loved one who struggles with hearing - and has listed any of the three reasons why they won't get hearing aids - encourage them to look at it from a different perspective. Help them to imagine how much better their life will be when they have their best possible hearing.