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Social stigma and hearing loss

There is no question that our culture worships at the altar of youth and vitality. So, is it any wonder that people with hearing loss are hesitant to admit it, let alone get hearing aids, for fear of appearing old?

Stigma around hearing loss and hearing aids

study published by Margaret Wallhagen, Ph.D., found that hearing loss stigma is strongly associated with “feelings of altered self-perception.” Some examples she cites are the perception of being “abled” versus disabled, and smart versus cognitively impaired. Among the people in study, these perceptions were enough to cause a delay in seeking treatment.

And the study by Wallhagen breaks down the stigma even further, dividing it into three specific parts: alteration in self-perception, as mentioned above, along with ageism and vanity. Vanity most certainly comes in to play when it comes to seniors not wanting to “look” old.

This a problem across Western cultures. “The general population perceives individuals with hearing loss as being ‘old,’ ‘cognitively diminished,’ poor communication partners,’ and generally ‘uninteresting,'” note the authors of a paper on the topic, published in The Hearing Review.

When asked why they don’t wear hearing aids, people with hearing loss cite a slew of stigmatizing reasons, survey data shows, such as “too embarrased to wear,” “makes you look disabled,” and “people make fun of you.”

Harmful to mind and body

This comes at an excessive cost. People hide their hearing loss and start avoiding social situations where they may struggle to communicate. This is bad for mental and physical health: In addition to causing auditory deprivation, untreated hearing loss and such psychosocial reclusion is linked to increased risk of dementia and depression.

Overcoming the fear of hearing loss

Want to stay youthful and full of vitality? Fight the stigma, and wear hearing aids. Nothing ages a person more than continually asking people to repeat themselves, answering questions inappropriately and being disconnected from the world around you. Wearing hearing aids make you healthier, and you can stay socially active, mentally sharp and continue to be active in your career.

Where to get help

If you have hearing loss and aren’t sure where to start by making an appointment with us!  We will guide you every step of the way to living a healthier, happier life full of sound!

Some content retrieved from on November 6, 2021.



Lash, B. N., & Helme, D. W. (2020). Managing Hearing Loss Stigma: Experiences of and Responses to Stigmatizing Attitudes & Behaviors. Southern Communication Journal85(5), 302-315.
Wallhagen, M. I. (2010). The stigma of hearing loss. The Gerontologist50(1), 66-75.