Have you ever wondered about the relationship between hearing loss and memory decline, or even dementia? If you have, you’re not alone. Google has pages and pages of studies and articles, info that ranges from medical sites (John Hopkins) to mainstream newspapers (Chicago Tribune). And while there is no conclusive link as of yet, as the Hearing Review says: “the evidence from scientific studies is intriguing.”
Let’s proceed for a minute as if hearing and cognitive function are definitively connected. If hearing loss can lead to memory loss, can the use of hearing aids forestall that decline? According to AARP, maybe. “Fortunately, there’s a potential upside. If this connection — shown in several recent and well-regarded studies — holds up, it raises the possibility that treating hearing loss more aggressively could help stave off cognitive decline and dementia.”
AARP is also quick to point out that nothing is proven, and even some of the top researchers, despite having “several theories about the possible explanation for the link between hearing and dementia…” aren’t sure if any will prove accurate.
Hear-it.org talks about hearing aids and memory in a different, more immediate way. In their article, “Hearing aids stimulate brain activity”, they talk about the common occurrence of forgetting everyday sounds. “Untreated hearing loss affects your quality of life, but it also affects the brain’s ability to remember common everyday sounds because the hearing channels are no longer effectively used.
Dr. Frank Lin, one of the leading researchers on the subject of hearing and memory, also talks about some of the more noticeable effects of hearing deficiency and memory loss. He refers to something he calls the cognitive load. “Essentially, the brain is so preoccupied with translating the sounds into words that it seems to have no processing power left to search through the storerooms of memory for a response.”
The Better Hearing Institute compiles a list of articles and links in support of World Alzheimers Month.