Memory Problems May Be Linked to Hearing Loss, Research Finds
Listen up! Researchers have found strong links between hearing loss and memory problems. While direct causality hasn’t been established, large studies over the past 10 years have shown the two are closely connected.
The mechanism of action that connects the two remains the subject of ongoing research.
One hypothesis centers on how hearing loss affects one’s social interactions. Hearing difficulties can lead to social isolation as people drop out of activities when they no longer can follow conversations. Resulting isolation and loneliness, in turn, have been linked to memory loss.
Pharmacists can play a role in encouraging people to get hearing tests, particularly if they notice long-time clients having difficulties understanding them.
Today, only about one-fifth of older adults who experience hearing loss will seek treatment, according to research. Part of the problem centers on lingering stigmas around the use of hearing aids as an assistive device for the elderly. That could be changing as more and more people wear earbuds for listening to music and technology continues to improve.
Meanwhile, some clinicians recommend people seek treatment when they first start noticing changes in their hearing. Addressing issues early may help to slow down one’s chances of memory loss later.