The stigma of wearing hearing aids recently came to light when the New York City Police Department decided to ban the use of hearing aids by its officers. Even by those whose hearing loss was caused in the line of duty through noise exposure (such as when patrolling the noisy New York subway network).
While the New York City Police Department might have its own reasons for the ban, there is no denying that people who wear a hearing aid are sometimes viewed unjustifiably as difficult to communicate with. There is also a view that wearing a hearing aid makes people look older or even handicapped. With a suitable fitted hearing aid however, these cosmetic concerns can be much diminished if not eliminated altogether. Hearing aid technology has advanced dramatically in the last five years to provide much improved hearing in a compact and cosmetic design. As a result, it could now be argued that it is more obvious that a hearing aid is needed than when one is in use.
If concerns over this issue remain, consider the following:
1. Put your health first - using a hearing aid is prescribed for health reasons, not cosmetic. If wearing the device brings improvement in quality of life, it should be the first consideration and all the other concerns are secondary.
2. In many instances with contemporary hearing aids, people genuinely only notice an improvement in communication and not the physical presence as to what may be providing it.
3. Be open with friends and co-workers - If you are concerned about how your peers might look at you now that you need to wear a hearing aid, take the time to openly explain why you need to wear the device and the improvements it will likely bring you.
4. Choose a device that suits you - Hearing aids are micro-computers which are designed to enhance external sounds. There are many models and types to choose from and some types are discreet making them a good combination between practicality and cosmetic concerns. You should always look for a device that can improve your hearing no matter its design, but nowadays the two can go hand in hand.
5. Improved quality of life - Hearing impairment can sometimes lead to withdrawal from certain activities (which often happens slowly; it may surprise you to discover certain activities or situations that have been avoided). In many cases, not only are these activities eagerly pursued once again, better hearing can improve self-confidence opening up new activities to explore and enjoy.