Hearing & Memory

Mature couple with hearing loss speaking to their audiologist about their memory

Hearing Loss
and Memory

If you have hearing loss, you have a greater chance of developing dementia, according to a 2020 Lancet commission report that lists hearing loss as one of the top risk factors for dementia. There are three primary reasons we believe this is happening.

  1. Untreated hearing loss makes the brain work harder, forcing it to strain to hear and fill in the gaps at the expense of other thinking and memory systems.
  2. Untreated hearing loss causes the brain to shrink more quickly make it less able to deal with the added listening burden.
  3. Untreated hearing loss leads people to be less socially engaged, which is hugely important to remaining intellectually stimulated. If you can’t hear very well, you may not go out as much, so the brain is less engaged and active.

When hearing health is addressed and improved, patients have the potential to remember 20% more of their conversations, 20% less effort in their listening, and increase their speech understanding by 30%.

A June 2018 study from the University of Maryland published in Neuropsychologia fit a group of older adults with impaired hearing but normal cognitive function with hearing aids for the first time. Over the course of six months, they tested their brain function and compared it to an age-matched group of adults who did not receive hearing aids.

At the end of the trial, “brain processing and working memory improved significantly in the hearing aid group, but we did not see that in the control group.”

What to do:

Wearing appropriately fit hearing aids may help reduce your memory issues and cognition. A baseline hearing test is recommended for all individuals over 55 years old. Make an appointment to have your hearing tested today.