Feel like you might be forgetting something important? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is becoming more and more difficult. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. The more you are aware of it, the more debilitating it becomes. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you think that this is simply a normal part of the aging process, you would be wrong. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? By determining the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to slow its advancement considerably and, in many cases, bring back your memory.
This is what you need to know.
How untreated hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
They’re not unrelated. Cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who suffer from hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. You have to make an effort to hear things. Now, your brain has to work hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. When trying to listen, you remove the unlikely choices to determine what someone most likely said.
Your brain is under additional strain as a result. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. This can result in embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new happens.
This stress of having to work overtime to hear and asking people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they are. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of a person whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. Even introverts struggle when they’re never around other people.
A person with untreated hearing loss gradually becomes secluded. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You may be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re with a room full of people. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just easier to spend more time alone. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
This regular lack of mental stimulation makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As a person with neglected hearing loss starts to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. They stop working.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the different regions of the brain. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
This lack of function in one area of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may quit working altogether. They might have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But with the brain, this damage is much more difficult to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
You’re probably still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be hardly 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.
Research has revealed that individuals that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. Individuals who started wearing hearing aids after symptoms began were able to slow the progression substantially.
As you age, try to remain connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing test. And consult us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.