Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. It really is becoming more difficult to remember things in daily life. Once you become aware of it, loss of memory seems to advance quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it is. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
If you believe that this is just a natural part of the aging process, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Disregarded 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 delay its progression considerably and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
This is what you need to know.
How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss
There is a connection. Cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people 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. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When attempting to listen, you remove the unlikely choices to figure out what someone most likely said.
Your brain is under additional strain as a result. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. This can cause embarrassment, misconceptions, and even resentment.
Stress has a huge effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be using for memory.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new happens.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat themselves 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’ve all heard the trope of somebody who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with other people, even introverts struggle.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to talk on the phone. You need people to repeat what they said at social gatherings making them a lot less enjoyable. Family and friends start to exclude you from discussions. You may be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re in a room full of people. In the long run, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just better to spend more time alone. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them now.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As a person who is coping with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the different regions of the brain. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can slowly move to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is connected to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for a long period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may stop working altogether. Learning to walk again could call for physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to undo 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. You might not even barely notice it. The good news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
Studies have shown that people that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was delayed in people who began using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you age. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to recognize that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.