Memory Loss & Psychological Distress with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has some far-reaching consequences that go beyond asking your friends to repeat themselves. Hearing loss makes it hard for you to follow conversations, enjoy dinner in a noisy restaurant, and even watch TV. Hearing loss has been linked to psychological distress, and difficulty hearing can even affect your memory!

Studying Hearing Loss, Memory, and Psychological Distress

A recent study published in the Geriatrics Gerontology International journal in 2019 looked at how hearing loss is connected to both psychological distress and memory loss in older adults. The study was completed by researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The researchers reviewed data from over 130,000 older adults in Japan to see how hearing loss affects older adults.

Hearing Loss and Memory Are Connected

The study found that hearing loss and memory are closely connected. More than 37% of older adults with hearing loss reported some memory loss. In comparison, only 5.2% of older adults with clear hearing reported any memory loss! Hearing loss and memory are closely connected, and seniors with untreated hearing loss are more likely to experience hearing loss than people who can hear clearly.

Hearing loss doesn’t cause memory loss, but it does play a role in forgetfulness. When you’re straining to hear, you put all your energy into making out the sounds, but sometimes the meaning of what’s being said is lost. When you have hearing loss, you may simply never hear the things you’re supposed to remember. 

When you do hear important details, your brain is using so much energy trying to hear the next words that you’re not processing facts into your long-term memory. Hearing loss can cause listening fatigue as you try to fill in the blanks and make sense of all the sounds you’re hearing. Hearing loss is closely linked to cognitive decline, and an increased risk of memory loss and dementia. 

Hearing Loss and Psychological Distress Are Connected

The study in Japan found that older adults with hearing loss reported higher rates of psychological distress than people with clear hearing. Their research showed that nearly 40% of seniors with hearing loss reported psychological distress, compared to just 19.3% of older adults who didn’t have hearing loss. 

Hearing loss can lead to psychological distress since it has a huge impact on our social lives. Whether we talk to our partner over a morning cup of coffee, meet friends for lunch, or have the family over for dinner, our lives are built around interactions with others. If you have hearing loss, communication breaks down, and this makes it harder to connect with your loved ones. 

Hearing loss is closely linked to increased stress and anxiety. You may feel embarrassed to attend social events since you’re worried about hearing conversations. You may feel uncomfortable asking people to repeat themselves, or worry your friends will be annoyed. Living with untreated hearing loss increases your risk of social isolation and feelings of loneliness, and many people with hearing loss report feelings of depression. The study clearly showed that hearing loss and psychological distress are connected.

Treating Hearing Loss to Improve Memory and Mental Health

Hearing loss can take a toll on your health mentally, emotionally, and physically. Treating hearing loss is a great solution to improve your quality of life. When you treat your hearing loss with hearing aids, you’ll hear the sounds around you without straining to hear. You’ll be doing the right thing for your brain, and you’ll have enough energy to perform cognitive tasks like consolidating memories.

Treating hearing loss will also improve your emotional and mental health. You’ll be able to have natural conversations with your loved ones, enjoy social events, and hear the punchline of every joke. The researchers in Japan recommend wearing hearing aids to treat your hearing loss to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Hearing aids are more advanced than ever before, and sophisticated programs and settings can help you ignore distracting sounds, focus on speech, and hear what you want to hear. Some devices even offer tinnitus therapy programs or connectivity features to connect your hearing aids to your smartphone. Visit us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center to find out more about your hearing aid options.