Discreet: (adjective) not likely to be seen or noticed by others; careful not to cause embarrassment or attract attention to.
This morning I read several blogs on hearing loss sites. The articles were a fair and basic overview of hearing loss and its impact on individuals who've experienced hearing loss, both the physical and emotional problems that may ensue when one loses their hearing.
The problem I had with all of the articles was the reference to the newer hearing aids that provide users with a "discreet" solution for their hearing loss -- as if they should be something that is kept hidden and, God forbid, discussed openly with others.
My problem is with the continual use of the word discreet.
In a society where hearing loss is reaching epidemic proportions, why should we be concerned with being discreet about our hearing losses and the devices that make it possible for us to hear again -- as if our hearing loss and our hearing aids should be regarded as an embarrassment, a personal failure, a family secret?
According to the National Institute on Deafness, a whopping 15% of Americans aged 18 or older have a hearing loss and approximately 9% of adults between the ages of 55 and 64 have a disabling hearing loss. That's about 1 in every 10 adults -- and the numbers continue to grow each year! It's time we bring it out into the open.
I am not sure why hearing loss and hearing aid use has been relegated to the quiet whispers of the back room with other health afflictions like bladder control, erectile dysfunction, or sexually-transmitted diseases. No one seems dissuaded to hide their failing eyesight by wearing discreet eyeglasses. Nor are they inundated with a barrage of insensitive or uneducated remarks about their eyesight. "Oh, I see you have eyeglasses! They're so big. Couldn't you have gotten more discreet ones? Can you still work? Can you still drive? Can you see me now?"
Indeed, it is ridiculous to think that our eyeglasses should be unnoticeable or inconspicuous -- as is our preoccupation with keeping hearing loss discreet.
Hearing loss is no joke. Nor is it an embarrassment. I hope that those who read this blog will know and understand and spread awareness about something that should not be discreet.
My name is Bonnie. I have profound hearing loss. And I wear hearing aids. Proudly.