Aging can bring or exacerbate a number of health conditions. Two of the most commonly seen in seniors are hearing loss and memory problems, which are often linked. Here's what you should know about the connection between hearing loss and memory issues from dementia.
What Are the Top Causes of Age-Related Hearing Loss?
Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is extremely common among elderly adults. One third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss. In seniors older than 75, the figure grows to half. Hearing loss is caused by a number of factors, including genetics and family history, long-term exposure to loud noises, medical conditions including heart disease and diabetes, a punctured ear drum, certain medications, and a history of smoking.
How Does Hearing Loss Relate to Memory Problems?
Seniors with hearing loss are at a greater risk of developing dementia, which is typically marked by memory problems. The temporal lobe is responsible for processing sound and storing short-term memories, which is why they may be connected. Hearing loss forces the brain to concentrate and work harder to understand what's being said. That may interfere with other cognitive functions, such as remembering the information that was just relayed. This is often referred to as cognitive overload.
Additionally, many people with hearing loss withdraw from social interactions. Isolation reduces mental stimulation, and cognitive inactivity is just as harmful as overload. The brain may actually shrink, impairing functions like memory.
How Can You Treat Hearing Loss?
While there is no cure for age-related hearing loss, it can be treated in a variety of ways. Your doctor may recommend hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices such as amplifiers or smartphone apps, or lessons in sign language or lip reading.
The National Institute on Aging is currently conducting a study to see if hearing aids can safeguard seniors' mental processes and lower the risk of cognitive decline. However, results are expected in early 2023.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, get in touch with Solbrig Hearing Center. The experienced audiologists provide hearing evaluations, amplifying devices, and digital hearing aids to clients throughout Kerrville, TX. Call (830) 895-5900 to book an appointment for a hearing test, and visit the website to learn more about how they can improve your hearing.
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