“I can’t hear you, so I’ll just laugh and hope it wasn’t a question.” Sound familiar? You are not alone. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, less than 25% of people who need hearing aids get them. Why the denial? Why do we labor so hard to avoid using a device that can dramatically improve our lives?
Association with Age
We live in a culture that is obsessed with youth. To be young is to be beautiful, sexy, and full of energy. Aging is just the opposite. It implies that one is losing their mental and physical abilities and probably their hearing too. People spend massive amounts of money to mask the visible signs of aging. Although there are small hearing aids available, it is the acknowledgment of a hearing loss that is hard to accept for individuals trying to regain their youth. Unfortunately, it’s hard to hide difficulty with communication and the consequences associated with it.
Association with Disability
A hearing impairment is a disability, and sadly, disabilities carry a negative image in most societies. It is often wrongly associated with other maladies such as dementia and feeblemindedness. Acknowledging a hearing loss is psychologically difficult for many because it places them in a group that they may have viewed with aversion at one time. Reluctance to use a hearing aid exacerbates the very disability they are trying to avoid.
A Big Challenge
Denial of a hearing problem is not always the reason for not purchasing a hearing aid. For many, change can be a difficult obstacle to overcome. As we age, we tend to become set in our ways. Comfort is found in our routine, even if that includes not being able to hear properly. For some, the challenges to embrace change are too overwhelming. The frustrations associated with adapting to a new device nullifies the benefits associated with it.
Low paying jobs, fixed incomes, and limited funds often keep those who need a hearing aid from getting one. The financial juggling is not worth enduring, and many are averse to being a financial burden on their family. Yes, hearing aids are expensive, and there are frequently other illnesses and concerns that take priority. It is important to compare the benefits of a hearing aid against the costs associated with it.
If you are reluctant to use a hearing aid, stop and think about all the sounds you are missing. Talk to others who suffer from hearing loss and have adapted to using a hearing aid. Have them share their experiences with you. If cost is a concern, the Hear Now program may be able to assist you. The Hearing Loss Association of America provides numerous useful links for the hearing impaired and their families. Denial will not make the problem go away; it will only exacerbate it. So if you are reluctant to wear a hearing aid, maybe it is time to reconsider those tiny devices that can make a big difference.