Hearing loss may be common, but so too are the many misunderstandings about it. Especially anyone who does not have direct experience is likely to believe these myths about it. But it is more likely than not that hearing loss will eventually affect all of us in one way or another, either directly or in a close relationship. Debunking these common myths will make us all better prepared for when this day comes.
Hearing Loss is Rare
It is impossible to get an exact number because so many cases go unreported. And congenital hearing loss is indeed very rare, affecting less than three out of every 1,000 births. But researchers believe around 14% of everyone in the United States over the age of 18 lives with hearing loss.
Only The Elderly Suffer Hearing Loss
It is true that more than half of everyone aged 75 and older lives with hearing loss and that is an astonishing percentage. But only one-third of everyone with hearing loss is over the age of 65.
You Will Recognize When Someone has Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is an invisible disability, meaning you cannot recognize it by looking at someone. It is also underrepresented in popular culture, meaning that portrayals of it that many of us see are likely to misrepresent it. In reality, it is hardly so obvious.
Everyone With Hearing Loss Treats It
Studies prove that less than 20% of everyone who lives with hearing loss maintains appropriate treatment. This is so many people not living their lives to their fullest potential due to preventable reasons.
Hearing Loss is a Minor Inconvenience
Left untreated, the consequences of hearing loss spiral into damaging so many aspects of one’s life. It can lead to social withdrawal, loneliness, depression, and even cognitive and psychological damage.
—Hearing loss not only diminishes volume, but it also muffles the clarity with which someone hears. The difficulties someone has hearing are unique to them alone. Speaking louder to someone who is hard of hearing will rarely be sufficient on its own because different sonic frequencies are impacted differently in each person.
Sign Language and Reading Lips
Not everyone with hearing loss uses sign language or reads lips. Each person’s experience with hearing loss is unique and therefore each person deals with it in their own way. There is no single best solution that always works best.
Hearing Loss Can be Restored to Normal
— Hearing aids and cochlear implants will be professionally calibrated to suit each person’s unique needs, but no one’s hearing will ever return to “normal.” Hearing loss is permanent and irreversible.
Hearing Loss Defines You
—Each of us is the sum of countless character traits. Hearing loss is simply one trait. With appropriate treatment hearing loss should not define you any more than your height or the color of your eyes.
Hearing Loss is Somehow Shameful
—This old stereotype is incredibly harmful. Are people ashamed of heart disease or cancer? Do people feel embarrassed to wear glasses?
Hearing Loss Means Your Whole Life is Compromised
—So many technologies and treatment options are widely available and affordable. Old fashioned stereotypes commonly implied that people with hearing loss were less intelligent and had limited options. But with the proper attention, care, and upkeep, there is no reason for anyone with hearing loss to not live a full and satisfying life.
People With Hearing Loss Only Hang Out with Each Other
—Hearing loss affects people from all walks of life equally. As someone gradually realizes that their hearing is diminishing, of course they still know everyone they already knew.
“Deaf”; “Hearing Impaired”; “Disabled”; “Handicapped,” It’s All The Same
—The preferred term that includes everyone with hearing loss is “people who are deaf or hard of hearing.” This includes an immense array of singular situations, each with distinct severity and differing specifics. Of course the needs and appropriate treatments for someone born with congenital deafness and someone who gradually lost their hearing over the course of years working in a loud factory and someone who lost their hearing suddenly as the victim of a loud blast are entirely different.
Take the time and invest the energy to learn the specifics of your situation. Ask any and all questions that occur to you and practice being patient and generous and hearing loss’s impact on your life can be inconsequential.