Hearing loss is not an isolated medical situation that only impacts your ability to hear. Studies have linked hearing loss to both our overall physical and mental health as well. With hearing loss comes the heightened chances of falls and hospitalizations, as well as declined mobility. It even impacts our mental well-being, leading to social isolation and even depression. Recent research has shown that links may exist between hearing loss and memory loss.
The Links between Hearing and Remembering
A recent study published in the Canadian Journal on Aginginvestigates the issue between hearing and memory with consideration that the two often may be conflated. In some instances, people may may believe that their loved one is having some sort of memory loss because they seem to forgotten the task right after being asked. They may also seem very disconnected or isolated in conversation. The obvious assumption may be trouble remembering or early onset memory loss.
However, if you reframe the situation and view it through the lens of communication, may it be possible that your friend or loved one is in fact facing hearing loss? They may not have trouble remembering what you just told them, but perhaps they may not have heard what was addressed. Those with hearing loss may have challenges comprehending the conversation because they are having trouble hearing it in full.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Susan Vandermorris highlights this conflation as she’s seen “clients who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease because their partner complains that they don’t seem to pay attention, they don’t seem to listen or they don’t remember what is said to them…an individual isn’t going to remember something said to them if they didn’t hear it properly.”
Understanding Memory Loss
The results of the study found that 56% of the patients who were evaluated for memory loss and other cognitive concerns faced some level of hearing loss. Out of those who did, only 20% used hearing aids. Additionally, roughly 25% of participants did not show any brain-related cognitive issues that that would have caused memory loss. Wish such noticeable correlation between the two, one would have to wonder if these two conditions were often mistaken for one another. Despite this being the case, this specific study along with others have linked hearing loss to cognitive health.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Health
What we do know is that despite memory loss being mistaken for hearing loss, there is academic evidence that a relationship exists between the two. According to Dr. Vandermorris, “People who can’t hear well have difficulty communicating and tend to withdraw from social activities as a way of coping. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which can impact cognitive, physical and mental health.”
This is also echoed in a 2013 John Hopkins University Study. Researchers from that study discovered that those with hearing loss were more likely to face a decline in cognitive function at a much higher rate of 30-40%. This occurs because the brain shifts resources away from other cognitive functions when faced with hearing loss, which is detrimental to our cognitive health. Other research has also revealed the links between hearing loss and dementia as well. What this goes to show is that living with untreated loss may lead to other cognitive health problems. Take the first step in mitigating not only further hearing decline but also cognitive health decay.
Treat Your Hearing Loss
It take roughly seven years for someone with hearing loss to actually get treated. As previous studies have shown how hearing loss impacts physical, mental, and cognitive health, it is critical in seeking out a hearing health professional to examine and assess your level of hearing loss. Doing so only helps improve your overall health. Be on the right path towards improving not only your hearing health, but also your cognitive and overall health today by getting a hearing test.
Visit us at Comprehensive Ear and Hearing
Treat your ears and brain right and be on the path towards great hearing and cognitive health by setting up a hearing test today. Early detection of hearing loss provide the best options for treatment and preventative measures impacting your hearing, cognitive, and overall health. If you feel like your hearing ability might be compromised, don’t delay to get a hearing test. Contact us at Comprehensive Ear and Hearing today to schedule a consultation!