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Making Light of Hearing Loss? Not a good move!

In my time of working with community and industry groups on hearing loss issues, I have heard plenty of clichéd hearing-loss jokes. Comments made with forced smiles brush aside the obvious and are meant to be humorous: “My problem is that I have selective hearing when it comes to my wife,” or “I hear what I want to hear” or “can’t fix it, so might as well laugh about it.” But is this all a laughing matter? 

Signs of denial

Actually, these rather defensive postures have little to do with humor. They have more to do with denial of hearing loss. Imbued with a certain amount of sadness, they may even speak to the erosion that hearing loss has already inflicted on relationships. 

Although many people might not realize that they have hearing loss, those who are “making light” of it do know. Usually, it does not take too much probing for the true feelings of frustration and embarrassment regarding the communication glitches to be revealed.  

Quit wasting time

On average, it takes between 5 and 10 years for people to take action on their hearing loss. Making light of it and denying it are not smart moves. They merely lead to wasting a lot of precious time. Meanwhile, the communication struggles take a social and emotional toll as family members, friends and coworkers tire of stubborn attitudes and worn-out wisecracks. 

Tend to this chronic communication issue

There are few ─ if any ─ chronic medical conditions that people willingly dismiss the way they dismiss hearing loss. After all, it is not a killer disease. It does not cause physical pain. Although it can inflict plenty of emotional stress, the belief that one can hide it or bluff one’s way through conversations and days at work remains strong. But what about quality of life? 

Rather than ignoring it and joking about it, tend to this chronic communication issue. Get a hearing evaluation; learn about the condition and about coping skills. Get information about the various types of hearing technology. Be curious. There are so many options out there. Help does not always come from budget-busting hearing aids.

Stigma dying fast 

The stigma that hearing loss implies old age is dying fast. It is important to remember that the numbers of those with hearing loss are on the rise in every age sector. And so, hearing loss is a condition like any other. The earlier it is diagnosed, the faster one accepts it, the faster one gets help, the better the outcome will be for all. 

After all, there is so much out there to be heard, to be enjoyed, to participate in. Time is precious and one does not want to waste it on misguided jokes – just making light of it.  


To learn about ears and hearing, please see my book on hearing lossWhat Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss, now in its second updated edition. Sharing my story and what I had to learn the hard way. 

For industry Safety Training or presentations, please see my website:


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