Most people view ailments like hearing loss, failing memory and dementia as normal consequences of aging. There is a growing body of research that shows those people are wrong. It is normal for your brain to shrink a little bit as you age, but too much leads to conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Your hearing can play a major role in keeping your memory and your brain sharp.

Here are 3 ways hearing loss affects your memory:

  1. Stress – When you strain to hear your brain experiences cognitive overload. That means your brain is working so hard to decipher was people are saying it doesn’t have the time to put the information in your memory bank. The more severe your hearing loss, the more resources your brain has to divert from other tasks to help you understand.
  2. Isolation – When you have to work extra hard to hear, you tend to start isolating yourself. You get tired of asking “What? ” and decide to keep to yourself instead. When you do have to be social, your frustration with your hearing difficulty can make you seem irritable. Prolonged social isolation leads to depression and changes in the brain and memory loss.
  3. Too much quiet time – When you isolate yourself your brain goes from having to work really hard to not working very much at all. As areas of your brain go unused the shrink or get taken over for other duties.

A French study published in October 2015 found that hearing aids help protect brain health and ward off cognitive decline. Over the course of the 25-year study participants with hearing aids experienced cognitive decline at the same rate as those with normal hearing. Because of this we highly recommend yearly hearing tests for anyone over the age of 50. If you can catch your hearing loss early you will keep your brain and your memory sharp. Don’t let your hearing loss affect your memory.