In a recent article in Audiology Today, Sheena D. Oliver et al. disclosed that research conducted into what people were looking for when addressing hearing loss offered some unexpected findings.
One of the top desired outcomes among people surveyed was "performance." Well, no great surprise here. The investment in assistive listening devices, portable hearing loops and hearing aids can be substantial, so of course people want their investment to offer the return of an improved quality of life.
The VERY top desire, however, was DISCREET. Despite the fact that our population's median age continues to rise, there is still a very real stigma around hearing loss, and many people still feel extremely self-conscious about their hearing loss. This lack of our culture to embrace hearing loss as a natural part of the aging process has had a dramatic effect on individuals who experience hearing loss in their 50's and 60's.
One solution can lie with the marketing of assistive listening devices. As manufacturers and assistive listening device providers create ads depicting images of people in mid-life, it may become easier for individuals to address their hearing loss earlier in life, and not see it as something that happens "when we get old." Making assistive listening technology more integrated with contemporary technology like smart phones and blue-tooth devices is another great way to help people in mid-life, who are comfortable using these technologies, be more open and realistic in addressing their hearing loss issues as they can see these devices fitting into their current lifestyle.
Whether it's an audiology practice, a hearing loss non-profit, an assistive listening device provider, or an employer, the more we all work to make hearing loss something that's "normal" the easier it will be for people to begin to address this issue at an earlier stage in life.