If you’re having memory problems in Tucson and worried that you might be experiencing the early stages of dementia of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s wise to get your hearing checked. You might actually be suffering from a hearing impairment instead. Research shows a strong correlation between untreated hearing loss and a variety of other physical and psychological health concerns, including memory loss.
The Link Between Memory and Hearing
About 48 million people experience hearing loss, making it one of the most common chronic health conditions in Arizona and across the U.S. Because it usually develops gradually, many people don’t even realize they have a hearing impairment in Tucson. Unfortunately, this puts them at an increased risk for many associated conditions ranging from anxiety and isolation to diabetes and cognitive impairment.
One of those concerns is memory loss. When hearing loss develops, the brain compensates for the decrease in hearing ability by diverting important cognitive resources from other key areas, such as memory and concentration, in an effort to improve hearing comprehension. Left untreated, this can result in severe cognitive impairment, including dementia.
According to a recent study published in the Canadian Journal on Aging, 56 percent of patients being evaluated for memory problems and possible brain disorders were suffering from hearing loss to a certain degree. More tellingly, only 20 percent of those individuals were hearing aid users. This comes as no surprise to researchers, who can point to data from numerous studies that shows treating hearing loss with hearing aids helps slow down memory loss and dementia and may even help prevent it if caught early.
This makes treatment of hearing loss a top priority, especially in people who attribute poor memory to other factors. The answer may be far simpler (and less scary) than Alzheimer’s: if an individual doesn’t hear something that has been said, of course he or she won’t “remember” it!
Dr. Kate Dupuis, the study’s lead author, stresses the importance of having hearing care specialists and neuropsychologists work together in order to provide positive outcomes for patients displaying signs of memory loss. “We are starting to learn more about the important role hearing plays in the brain health of our aging population,” she says. “In order to provide the best care to our older clients, it is imperative that neuropsychologists and hearing care professionals work together to address the common occurrence of both cognitive and hearing loss in individuals.”
Your Tucson audiologist recommends regular hearing screenings once you turn 50. If there is a family history of hearing loss, you should make hearing tests a routine part of your health care even earlier.