As you know, hearing loss affects far more than your ability to follow conversations. If you have hearing loss, you might have a hard time focusing on tasks, keeping your balance, or localizing the sounds around you. Those with hearing loss are also more prone to trips, slips, and falls, and have far higher rates of hospitalization. Hearing loss has even been linked to social isolation and depression. Furthermore, hearing loss affects the brain as well! If you think your loved one has memory loss, encourage them to get a hearing test. It’s possible that their apparent memory loss is actually a sign of hearing loss.
Linking Memory and Hearing Loss
A loved one with memory loss can be a frightening thing. We all know that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more common, and we’re worried that our loved ones might have the early warning signs of this degenerative brain disease. A recent Baycrest study published in the Canadian Journal on Aging looked at the links between memory and hearing, and found that more than 50% of those who had the early signs of memory loss, such as difficulty focusing, answering questions inappropriately, or confusing dates and times, also had hearing loss. They discovered that these symptoms weren’t necessarily a sign of memory loss, but of hearing loss!
Dr. Susan Vandermorris, a clinical neuropsychologist at Baycrest and lead author of the study, said that many people take these symptoms as a sign of hearing loss. “We commonly see clients who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease because their partner complains that they don’t seem to pay attention,” explains Dr. Vandermorris. “They don’t seem to listen, or they don’t remember what is said to them. Sometimes addressing hearing loss may mitigate or fix what looks like a memory issue.” After all, how can your loved one remember something you told them if they never even heard it in the first place?
How Hearing Loss Affects the Brain
To do the right thing for your brain, and prevent future memory loss, the best plan of action is to treat your hearing loss. “Some people may be reluctant to address hearing loss,” says Dr. Vandermorris, “but they need to be aware that hearing health is brain health and help is available.” Living with untreated hearing loss jeopardizes far more than just your hearing, so seek treatment as soon as possible.
Hearing loss affects the brain in profound ways, and if you live with hearing loss, you will actually develop memory loss much sooner. Living with untreated hearing loss means the brain isn’t receiving as much stimulation from the environment, and the cells in the auditory centers of the brain start to deteriorate or even die. This affects overall brain health, and can lead to difficulty focusing, trouble communicating, inability to complete tasks, and you guessed it, memory loss.
Hearing Loss and Social Isolation
Hearing loss also affects memory through social isolation. “People who can’t hear well have difficulty communicating and tend to withdraw from social activities as a way of coping,” says Dr. Vandermorris. “This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can impact cognitive, physical and mental health.” Once again, hearing loss can lead to memory problems, and your loved one’s inability to remember an appointment could be due to hearing loss rather than to dementia.
Get Your Hearing Tested
If you or your loved one has been struggling with hearing loss, or presenting any of the symptoms of memory loss, get your hearing tested! If a hearing loss is detected, you could benefit from a hearing device. Not only does untreated hearing loss affect your ability to hear, you’ll also be using far more energy straining to make out the sounds, and won’t have any brain energy left over to understand or remember what’s been said. Finding out that you have hearing loss could be a huge relief, because help is close at hand.
My Hearing Centers
If you have hearing loss, My Hearing Centers will help you find the perfect device for your lifestyle and level of hearing loss. You’ll be able to hear clearly, have the energy to focus on what’s being said, and remember everything clearly!