Health: Stigma fears should not be a barrier to hearing help

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Social stigma can be irrational, hurtful and even prevent people from making the right health choices.

Whether it be through growing older, working in harsh conditions or a sudden change in circumstances, losing your hearing either wholly or in part is a real possibility for millions.

Nevertheless according to a recent survey commissioned by Lloyds Pharmacy, one third of adults in Yorkshire are concerned people would treat them differently if they wore hearing aids. The study, which involved 1,500 British adults, also revealed that nearly a fifth of those still feel there is a social stigma around hearing loss.

It’s a sorry, but sadly very real, situation. Action on Hearing Loss claims that those with hearing difficulties typically wait around eight years before taking action.

It’s incredible to think that in this day and age people in Leeds and beyond would sacrifice their quality of life for the embarrassment of wearing a hearing aid, which in reality is not particularly frowned upon. But the perception is still there.

Having worked in heavy industry for more than 40 years, my stepfather has been hard of hearing for as long as I can remember. The TV would be on full blast when I returned home, simple conversations could prove difficult and names of friends and girlfriends would get lost in translation.

Now, decades on from losing his hearing to a large degree, he has decided to act but only when it became clear to him that he wouldn’t have to wear an obviously visible hearing aid. It shows just how ingrained in our minds that stigma is.

Your quality of life is far more important than worrying about what others might think.

MILLIONS ARE HIT BY HEARING LOSS

One in two people over 60 are affected by age-related hearing loss. It is estimated that 14.5million people will live with it by 2031.

A survey of 1,500 British adults commissioned by Lloyds Pharmacy found that a third of people in Yorkshire are concerned that people would treat them differently if they wore a hearing aid.

The research showed 19 per cent feel there is a social stigma around hearing loss, while only seven per cent would feel embarrassed to wear a hearing aid.

For more information about age-related hearing loss or to book a free test at a local LloydsPharmacy visit lloydspharmacy.com/hearing.

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