Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? You’re not imagining it. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it becomes. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you believe that this is simply a natural part of getting older, you would be wrong. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many people that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your hearing impacting your memory? By knowing the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to delay its progression considerably and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
This is what you should know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a connection. In fact, researchers have found that individuals with neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive issues.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to strain to hear things. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind needs to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. You try to figure out what people most likely said by removing unlikely choices.
Your brain is under extra strain as a result. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be very stressful. This can result in embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even resentment.
Stress has a major impact on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new takes place.
You can begin to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. 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 somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are created to be social. Even introverts have difficulty when they’re never around other people.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat themselves at social events making them much less enjoyable. Friends and family begin to exclude you from conversations. You might be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re with a room full of people. In the long run, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just easier to spend more time alone. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them anymore.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when someone begins to physically or mentally isolate themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching regions of the brain. They quit working.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various parts of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
There will typically be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.
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 could stop working entirely. They may need 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. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the beginning stages of memory loss. You may not even hardly be aware of it. It’s not 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 people that have hearing loss who regularly use 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 started using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you age. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And if there’s any reason you’re not using your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!