It’s estimated that in the UK today, roughly 40 per cent of people over the age of 50 have some degree of hearing loss1.
It’s an incredibly common condition, with many people being prescribed hearing aids.
However, according to a study published in the International Journal of Audiology2, a surprising number of people choose not to wear their hearing aids. The reason? They feel uncomfortable and self-conscious wearing them.
The stigma surrounding hearing loss and wearing a hearing aid is all too real. It’s easy to understand why. Many people view having to wear a hearing aid as a sign of being old, and they don’t want to be seen as something they don’t feel. Many people struggle with hearing loss before realising that it can get in the way of safety and improved quality of life.
Many of the older hearing aids were bulky and uncomfortable: they protruded significantly from the ear. Having a face-to-face conversation could be even more disconcerting, as that put the hearing aid ‘front and centre’, so to speak. It used to be so hard to wear a hearing aid without feeling like it changed the way people saw you. For some, it still is.
The evolution of hearing aids
There is good news for self-conscious hearing aid wearers today, however. Like other electronics, hearing aids have been miniaturised. As technology continues to evolve, they’ve become smaller and smaller. Some are virtually invisible, which gives wearers a significant boost of self-confidence.
For instance, the invisible hearing aids we stock are super-compact devices that fit deeply inside the ear canal and are not visible to passers-by, nor are they visible in face-to-face conversations. They fit completely within the ear but do not block the ear canal. The silicone body is designed to fit comfortably while augmenting your natural hearing, and no-one will have to know it’s there.
If you’re unconvinced by completely-in-the-canal hearing aids, you’ll discover a wide range of other hard-to-notice hearing aid styles on the market. For instance, combining the capabilities of rechargeable batteries with modern design aesthetics has allowed the creation of slim hearing aids that fit behind the ear and are almost completely unnoticeable. No more bulky add-ons that made you feel like a robot.
Really, there is an option for just about anyone, whether you prefer a completely invisible in-canal design or would rather go with a slim-line behind the ear design. We even offer advanced rechargeable hearing aids.
Communication and quality of life
Perhaps the single most important reason that you wear your hearing aids is to improve your communication with others and increase your quality of life. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of social isolation. It throws up walls between you and your friends and loved ones. Hearing aids ensure that you can continue to be part of the life around you and help prevent you from feeling ostracised and alone.
Hearing loss may also affect those around you negatively: it can be easy to forget that it’s not just you who might be frustrated. Consider your loved ones in this case. If they are constantly repeating themselves or complaining at the volume levels on the television, a lot of these frustrations can be solved through wearing your hearing aids.
Improved balance and less chance of injury
Hearing loss can also affect your sense of balance, which can lead to a greater risk of injury through falls.
Improved mental health
Hearing can be difficult enough on its own. Studies have shown that those who experience more severe hearing loss also have a greater risk of developing dementia and other forms of mental decline. However, hearing aids can help combat an increase in hearing loss and improve your mental health and acuity while reducing the chance of developing dementia-related conditions(3).
Ultimately, the stigma and embarrassment around wearing hearing aids is still preventing too many people from enjoying a fuller quality of life. It does not have to be that way, though. Technology has come such a long way that nowadays, it’s easy to forget that you’re even wearing a hearing aid.
As for other people noticing it, miniaturisation, and a range of style types mean that modern hearing aids are either barely noticeable or completely invisible. For more information on hearing loss, you can learn more in our dedicated educational resource here.
- AgeUK.org.uk, Hearing Loss, Mar 05, 2019 https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/conditions-illnesses/hearing-loss/
- McCormack, Abby and Fortnum, Heather, Why Do People Fitted with Hearing Aids Not Wear Them? International Journal of Audiology, May 2013 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665209/
- Hélène Amieva PhD, Camille Ouvrard MSc, Caroline Giulioli MSc, Céline Meillon MSc, Laetitia Rullier PhD, Jean-François Dartigues MD, PhD, Self-reported hearing loss, hearing aids, and cognitive decline in elderly adults: A 25-year study, 20 October, 2015, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.13649?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false&