Why Most Deaf People Don’t Wear Hearing Aids

Did you know that only about 2% of people with hearing loss regularly wear hearing aids?

Beyond Tone would like to extend the perspective that being deaf is perfectly normal.

So why do we not like wearing hearing aids sometimes?

Is it the stigma?

Or do you not care about what other people think, but it’s just that hearing aids a hassle to deal with? Batteries, cleaning them out, stuffing them into your ear every day, etc…

In reality, there are many reasons.

It Doesn’t Fit!

Maybe the reason we don’t like wearing hearing aids is simple.

The earmold is too big in some places and too small in others. The earmold is too hard and it irritates the ear skin, especially that little hook, which keeps the earmold in place.

We’d have to go back to the audiologist to redo the earmold. But we put it off. Life gets in the way. Money gets tight. We come up with all kinds of excuses not to go to the audiologist.

To solve the earmolds problem, get an audiologist who knows what she’s doing.  It is important that you have the right support and information when the hearing aid gets fitted. Also, it won’t hurt to try those soft silicone earmoulds that have been available for a while now -- these are much more comfortable.

Not Knowing What Good Hearing Aid Options Are

State-of-the-art hearing aids are available, but many people don’t know that.

Even if you did a Google search, you come across one of the two things:

  1. Glossy websites chock full of seductive marketing with pictures of people and kids smiling and laughing with nary a care in the world. This tends to be the big hearing aid brands, like Phonak or Oticon.

  2. Terrible looking affiliate websites ridden with typos and bad grammar hollering discount after discount with poor quality hearing aids.

And lots of misinformation.

Usually people get their recommendations from an audiologist and just buy their hearing aids through the audiologist’s office.

Or some people ordered them online (a bad idea) or bought them from a big box store like Costco. In most cases, they did not have them properly programmed by a hearing specialist, so they stash them in their bedside drawer and forget about them.

Perhaps they’ve hated the device right from the start and decided all hearing aids were equally as bad.

Failed To Live Up To Its Hype

If I could hire a hearing aid marketer for my business, I might become a millionaire. They are masters. Smooth and seductive marketing for hearing aids play up the wonderful advantages of hearing aids and their ability to improve communication skills.

It sounds like your hearing will be 100% once you’ve put them in, and you’ll be able to participate in group conversations -- no problem!

Of course, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

With such optimistic expectations, the wearer is understandably disappointed when the device doesn’t live up to the hype. Almost everyone knows at least one person who hates their hearing aids. Such stories discourage hearing aid wearers from using the devices because they were told they’re useless.

The point to remember is that a hearing aid is an aid, not a replacement. Listening difficulties will still happen. Many experience discomfort from loud sounds.

For these reasons, it is ideal to get them adjusted in follow-up appointments with your audiologist.

And don’t procrastinate!

I know, I know… easy for me to say... especially considering I haven’t seen my audiologist for more than a year…

Maintenance and Batteries

Hearing aids are tiny.

They are delicate. If you’re not careful, they break easily.

Heaven forbid if you get them wet.

Note: I had a friend who somehow forgot his hearing aid on the roof of his car in the pouring rain in the middle of a thunderstorm. Miraculously, it still worked!

Hearing aids need to be taken care of so they continue to function well. It’s easy for us to forget they need a thorough cleaning every once in awhile.

For example, when was the last time you cleaned your hearing aids after a sweaty workout at the gym. Do you even think of it?

The aid is in or around the ear, so it gets exposed to sweat, moisture, ear wax, dirt and dust. To keep them functioning, the user needs to clean it, change or charge batteries, and keep it in good condition. Many people find this more trouble than they’re worth.

Social Stigma

Stigma almost seems like a thing of the past.

In 2017 we are fortunate that general attitudes toward hearing aids have changed for the better.

People are more used to things in their ears. Bluetooth earpieces, smartphone wireless earbuds, etc.

However, even in this day and age, the use of hearing aids continues to be associated with stigma, making deaf people feel like outcasts -- and it cuts both ways. The culturally Deaf community sometimes forgo wearing hearing aids because they feel as though they don’t need them.

Other people, especially late deafened adults, simply refuse to accept their hearing loss. They might admit to not hearing perfectly, but they’ll deny how severe it is. They don’t feel they need a hearing aid and can hear just fine without it.

The Bottom Line

Hearing aids can profoundly improve a person’s quality of life. However, there is still a stigma attached to being deaf, and many people won’t wear their hearing aids because they feel embarrassed.

From a mainstream perspective, deafness is seen as a disability. On the other hand, many deaf people see themselves as diverse members of our society.

There are advantages and disadvantages to wearing hearing aids. For more detail, read this article.