Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? It’s not your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting harder and harder. Once you notice it, loss of memory seems to develop quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you think that this is just a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
Ignored hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? By identifying the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to slow down its development significantly and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
They’re not unrelated. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that individuals with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive problems.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things requires extra effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind needs to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. When trying to hear, you remove the unlikely possibilities to figure out what someone probably said.
This puts lots of added stress on the brain. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be very stressful. This can lead to embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.
Stress has a significant impact on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
And something new begins to happen as hearing loss advances.
This strain of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they are. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of the person who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never around other people.
A person with disregarded hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat what they said. Family and friends begin to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you might space out and feel alone. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel as if you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
This regular lack of mental stimulation makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As a person with untreated hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. When this takes place, those regions of the brain atrophy and stop working.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for an extended time. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become really weak. They may quit working entirely. They might need to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to undo the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans demonstrate this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the early stages of memory loss. You may not even barely notice it. 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 untreated.
In these studies, those who were wearing their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than someone of a similar age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The progression of memory loss was slowed in people who started wearing their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you get older. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to understand 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 using your hearing aid, please consult us about solutions – we can help!