Why is it socially acceptable to shame people about their hearing loss? Part 1 - Simon Audiology and Tinnitus

Why is it socially acceptable to shame people about their hearing loss? Part 1

By Dr. Anne Simon

April 10, 2019

Have you noticed how once acceptable targets for insults are now off-limits? During my adult life, I have seen many examples of this. We no longer shame those who wear glasses or have braces on their teeth. We no longer target hair color or height. I used to have a short schoolmate that called herself, ‘fun-sized’ to diffuse shaming.

I see patterns in my patients’ experiences. Lately, I have heard more stories about shaming those with hearing loss. It still seems acceptable to express frustration through shaming when someone does not hear us.

I use “shaming” here as behavior that communicates to another they lack value or worth. Some patients use the term “teasing.” But, I can hear in those conversations the questioning of value.

The shaming can come from friends, co-workers, and grandchildren, or even a spouse. Anyone who might find irritation when they don’t feel heard. My patients might respond with a laugh, a cry, or scream. In each instance, I hear pain when they share the story.

Untreated hearing loss is not an easy thing to live with. It is a silent struggle. When you have hearing loss, it can be difficult to describe the struggle to someone with normal hearing. You are unsure what is going on and possibly angry. Jokes or teasing about someone’s hearing loss is rarely helpful. It is usually hurtful. 

A community is made of all different kinds of people. Each one with struggles that others cannot see. There is no need to make someone’s life harder, sadder, or empty. If you think someone is having trouble hearing you, be patient, be understanding, and give them a smile . . . while you rephrase what you said. 

There’s more to be said about shaming and hearing loss. We’ll pick up the topic Part 2. We’ll look at this from a different perspective. You might find the insights surprising. Until then……

If you or a loved one find conversation difficult, an audiologic evaluation is the best, next step. You have five senses that you experience life through. Why not experience life to the fullest? Call my office today to schedule your consultation! 208-746-7022.


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