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How Does Hearing Loss Impact Memory?
As you get older, you may be told that your failing memory and hearing loss are normal and are a consequence of aging. There has been some extensive researched published to show that this is an incorrect way of thinking, and while it’s normal for the brain to change as we age, it’s abnormal to think all memory and hearing loss is normal. Sometimes, memory and hearing loss can be down to dementia and Alzheimer’s, and your hearing can play a huge role in keeping your memory sharp.
Hearing loss and your brain
Your hearing loss isn’t always going to be down to age. Brain training games are popular at the moment, and people buy them to improve their mental acuity. Growing older affects memory because the human brain, which has plasticity, changes the structure as we age. The brain generally shrinks in size and maintaining an active mind can be crucial to healthy aging. So, where does hearing loss fit in?
Researchers have found that a loss in hearing impacts the memory because we know that a good memory relies on the ability to pay attention. When you cannot hear those around you, you can’t retain any of the information being told to you. If you can’t hear instructions and information, you can’t process it properly. This means that you cannot recall the information again later on. Struggling to understand what’s being told to you is a big problem, and if the brain can reorganize itself to compensate for hearing loss, the area of the brain responsible for hearing weakens.
Ways memory is impacted
There are three clear ways that hearing loss affects your memory, and an appointment with your audiologist can confirm this hearing loss.
- Stress. Straining and struggling to hear those around you can cause you to work so hard that people are saying, you don’t retain the information. This creates a cycle of stress, whereby you are stressed trying to hear, stressed trying to retain and stressed because you can do neither.
- Isolation. When you are struggling to hear but embarrassed to see an audiologist about the problem, you tire of asking people to repeat themselves. This can push you into a social isolation that is difficult to climb back out of, leaving you feeling alone and frustrated with no one to talk to.
- Regression. When you are alone and have no one to speak to, your brain stops working as hard as it used to. There are then areas of the brain that shrink when not consistently used.
One of the solutions to improving your memory as you age is to schedule a hearing test with your audiologist. You need to see where your current hearing levels lie and work out how to improve them. Brain games and exercise can improve your memory, but sound stimulation with hearing aids allows for better information storage. When you can hear, you can retain and keep your memory working as sharply as it always has.