Do you have a loved one who’s struggling to remember things? Maybe they completely forgot something you told them, or missed a doctor’s appointment. As Alzheimer’s and dementia are becoming increasingly common among seniors, we often get scared when we notice signs of memory loss in a family member. We’re worried that these signs could point to the beginning of a hard journey ahead. While it’s true that memory loss is a common sign of dementia, researchers have found that memory loss could actually be a sign of hearing loss.
Recognizing the Signs of Memory Loss
One third of seniors in the US have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, so recognizing the signs of memory loss is more important than ever before. If you’ve noticed that your loved one is starting to forget things, it’s important to watch closely for the signs of memory loss. Have they been forgetting recently learned information? For example, you might tell your spouse that your daughter is coming for a visit the next day, but went she shows up at the door, your spouse is taken by surprise, and doesn’t remember that you told them about the visit. If your loved one has difficulty with memory, they’ll have trouble concentrating on tasks, or remembering how much of the task they’ve completed. Forgetting the date or the day of the week is another common sign of memory loss. If you’ve noticed these signs in your loved one, it’s possible that they have memory loss. However, it’s also possible they’re actually struggling to hear.
Studying Memory and Hearing Loss
A recent study in the Canadian Journal on Aging set out to explore the connection between memory and hearing loss. They found that half of seniors with the signs of memory loss also have hearing loss. It’s possible that your loved one’s memory loss isn’t actually caused by dementia, but is a sign of hearing loss. When you told your spouse your daughter was coming to visit, did they actually hear you? Did they understand what you’d said, or think you were talking about something else? If your loved one isn’t able to hear the information in the first place, it’s no wonder they can’t recall it later, and might be exhibiting the signs of memory loss. “We commonly see clients who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease because their partner complains that they don’t seem to pay attention,” explains Dr. Susan Vandermorris, a clinical neuropsychologist author of the study. “They don’t seem to listen, or they don’t remember what is said to them. Sometimes addressing hearing loss may mitigate or fix what looks like a memory issue.” Before you worry that your loved one has a degenerative brain disease, take a moment to ask yourself if they could be struggling with hearing loss.
Look After Your Ears to Look After Your Brain
Hearing health is closely linked to brain health. Hearing clearly keeps your loved one engaged in conversations, and exercises the brain. Those with clear hearing are more active, get out of the house more, and are more involved in the community. They’re less likely to suffer from loneliness, isolation, or depression. Hearing health is closely linked to the health of your brain. Hearing clearly allows you to be engaged in social situations, and keep your mind sharp. Those with clear hearing are less likely to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and report a much higher quality of life.
Treating Hearing Loss
Does your loved one have hearing loss? Those living with untreated hearing loss have difficulty following conversations, and spend all their energy straining just to make sense of the sounds without understanding what’s been said. In complex listening environments with a lot of background noise, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate important speech sounds from background noises, and the unintelligible wall of sound leads to misunderstanding and social anxiety that can look a lot like memory loss.
If you think your loved one has memory loss, encourage them to get their hearing tested as soon as possible. Call us today at Denver Audiology to schedule a comprehensive hearing test and discover if your loved one is having trouble hearing. Treating their hearing loss could improve their memory, and you can stop worrying about their brain.