Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. It really is getting harder to remember things in everyday life. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. The more you are aware of it, the more debilitating it becomes. The majority of people aren’t aware that there’s a link between memory loss and loss of hearing.
If you think that this is simply a natural part of the aging process, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
Ignored hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? By knowing the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to delay its development considerably and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
This is what you need to know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They’re not unrelated. Cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to overcome hearing loss. You have to struggle to hear things. Now, your brain needs to work hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. When attempting to listen, you remove the unlikely possibilities to figure out what someone probably said.
This puts a lot of additional strain on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills lead you astray. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
As the hearing loss advances, something new takes place.
You can start to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and struggling to hear. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. We humans are social creatures. Even people who are introverted struggle when they’re never around others.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat themselves at social gatherings making them much less enjoyable. Friends and family start to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might space out and feel secluded. The radio might not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
This regular lack of mental stimulus makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As a person with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. There’s no more stimulation reaching regions of the brain. They quit functioning.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the different parts of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could quit working altogether. They may have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to reverse the damage. The brain actually starts to shrink. Brain Scans demonstrate this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
You’re most likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely noticeable. The good news is that it’s not the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
In this research, people who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than somebody around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The advancement of memory loss was delayed in individuals who started using their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.
As you age, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you should recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Don’t disregard your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please talk to us about treatment options – we can help!