Untreated hearing loss can have a variety of negative consequences, including affecting your memory.
Research on Hearing Loss and Memory
Multiple studies have found a connection between hearing loss and memory problems, as well as cognitive decline.
- A 2021 study found that hearing loss is associated with lower cognitive function and accelerated cognitive decline on a memory test when observing patients over a several-year period.
- Another study that tracked 639 adults over a period of about 12 years found that hearing loss increased dementia risk. The risk was greater the more severe a participant’s hearing loss was.
Three Reasons Hearing Loss Can Worsen Memory
- Cognitive overload. When you struggle to hear, your brain has to work harder to understand speech and other sounds. For example, when talking with a coworker, you may be putting so much energy into understanding what they are saying that your brain has less ability to retain that information. This doesn’t mean that your memory isn’t working, just that hearing loss prevents your brain from getting far enough to store the information.
- Increased anxiety and depression. Untreated hearing loss can have a negative impact on your mental health. People have reported experiencing an increase in both anxiety and depression, both of which can change the way your brain operates and may affect your memory.
- Loneliness and isolation. Because hearing loss makes it harder to communicate, many people who have it find themselves increasingly avoiding social situations. This can bring about feelings of loneliness which can increase anxiety and depression. Additionally, social isolation means that your brain is exposed to less stimulation, which can reduce functioning over time and affect your memory.
Use Hearing Aids to Help Your Memory
Hearing aids enhance your hearing function, thereby preventing cognitive overload. This lets your brain process information without having to work as hard, making it easier to store information in your memory and recall it later.
Additionally, hearing aids make it much easier to connect with others, whether at church, neighborhood barbeques or lunch with friends at Serendipity Café. This reduces the risk of social isolation and helps minimize feelings of anxiety and depression.
If you’ve been struggling with your hearing, take the first step towards better health and call the experts at Elevate Audiology today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.