A little forgetfulness is common. Maybe we misplaced the car keys or forgot to water the ficus. But for many adults suffering from memory loss in Louisville, a hearing impairment may be to blame.
Hearing and Cognition are Connected
Hearing loss in Louisville is common, affecting about one out of every five adults. Not all of them are treating their condition – but not taking action increases their risk of developing a number of physical, social and psychological conditions, including memory loss and cognitive impairment.
The association between hearing loss and impaired memory is well-established after several high-profile research studies have determined a positive link. One study, published by Johns-Hopkins University, followed 2,000 older adults over a period of six years. None of the group’s participants displayed signs of cognitive impairment when the study began. Their hearing and cognition were tested in the fifth year of the study and the results were compared with their baseline scores.
The research team published its findings in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2013. The results were pretty conclusive: participants who had the worst hearing at the outset, defined as an impairment severe enough to interfere with their daily conversational ability, were 24 percent more likely to experience a decline in cognitive ability compared to individuals with normal hearing. Memory loss, it turns out, was one of the first recognizable symptoms.
The link between hearing and memory has a lot to do with the brain. You might think hearing is primarily a function of the ears, but in reality, they merely collect sounds from the environment and send them to the brain for processing. When you have trouble hearing, your brain must work to fill in the gaps; it does so by using resources that would otherwise be diverted to other important areas, such as memory and cognition. The more severe your hearing loss, the more effort is required of the brain to aid in comprehension. This is evidenced by higher incidences of memory loss and cognitive impairment in patients with the most pronounced hearing losses.
Additionally, the social withdrawal and isolation experienced by many individuals with hearing loss are big factors. When it comes cognition, the phrase “use it or lose it” applies; a lack of mental stimulation can actually cause the brain to shrink, leading to reductions in memory and cognitive function. Unfortunately, many people with hearing loss avoid social situations and interactions with others because of the stress and fatigue these activities cause. The harder your brain works, the more tired and anxious you will feel. Remaining active is an important key in keeping you mentally healthy.
There is one solution to keeping you mentally alert, and that is the “gold standard” in hearing loss treatment – hearing aids. Studies show that regular users have lower rates of memory loss and cognitive decline.
If your memory isn’t what it used to be and you suspect hearing loss might be to blame, make an appointment for a consultation with a Louisville audiologist as soon as you can. Investing in your hearing health is one of the smartest decisions you will make!