I was honored to present to the Palm Springs Daughter of the American Revolution last week. My topic was Hearing, Memory and Dementia. There were over 65 people in attendance.

At the beginning of my speech I asked for a show of hands of how many of the women knew or thought they had hearing loss. Less than ¼ of the audience raised their hands. (Statistically, over ½ should have raised their hands.) But when I asked if their significant others had a hearing loss, about ¾ of the room raised their hands. And when I asked how many of those significant others wore hearing aids, only ¼ raised their hands.

Recent studies are linking hearing loss to dementia. Because of the hearing loss, listening becomes more difficult and the brain has to work harder to fill in the blanks. When it is working harder, it cannot spend any energy on other “normal” tasks like retrieving experiences in long and short term memory.

Wearing hearing aids at least 4 hours a day, helps the individual keep their brain working “normally.” The brain hears the sounds clearer and so listening is an easier experience. And then the brain can work in the way it was intended.

I pointed out to these women that their partners could deny their hearing losses and refuse to wear their hearing aids. But in the long run, these women were going to bear the brunt of their decisions by becoming their caregivers.

It is everyone’s decision. We do not know if wearing hearing aids prevents long term memory problems, but we know that hearing aids slow the process of hearing loss. We know that people who wear hearing aids have fuller lives, are more active, and do not suffer from depression like their peers who do not wear hearing aids.

Seniors are willing to spend thousands of dollars on dental restoration. They are willing to spend thousands of dollars for their share of hip transplants co-pays. Anything medical, if insurance pays part of the cost, they are willing to pay the remainder. But this is not true with hearing aids.

So I ask you…….how much money is your brain worth to you?