Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. It really is getting more difficult to remember things in everyday life. Memory loss seems to progress rather quickly once it’s detected. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. Most people don’t realize that there’s a connection between memory loss and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t simply a natural occurrence of getting older. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to slow down its progression considerably and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
Here’s what you need to know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They aren’t unrelated. In fact, researchers have found that those who have untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other profound cognitive issues.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. Listening to things demands added effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When trying to hear, you eliminate the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone most likely said.
Your brain is under added strain as a result. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
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 starts to take place as hearing loss worsens.
This stress of having to work overtime to hear and asking people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can begin a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with others, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with untreated hearing loss slowly becomes secluded. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. Social get-togethers are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat themselves. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel secluded. In the long run, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching regions of the brain. When this happens, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop working.
Our brain functions are extremely coordinated. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
There will normally be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.
It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. When they are sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles get really weak. They may possibly just quit working completely. They might have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
You’re likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even hardly notice it. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
Studies have revealed that individuals with hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. Those who started wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to slow the progression substantially.
Stay connected and active as you age. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Get your hearing tested. And consult us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.