Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. The majority of people aren’t aware that there’s a connection between memory loss and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t just a normal occurrence of aging. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many individuals that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to slow down its development considerably and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
This is what you need to know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a relationship. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that those with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive problems.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to overcome hearing loss. Listening to things takes additional effort. Now, your brain needs to work extra hard where before it just occurred naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to figure out what people most likely said by removing unlikely choices.
This puts a lot of extra stress on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
Stress has a huge impact 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 advances, something new takes place.
This stress of having to work harder to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re always 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 meant to be social. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never with others.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. You start to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you may space out and feel secluded. 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 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 more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As someone who is coping with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. There’s no more stimulation reaching regions of the brain. They stop functioning.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
There will normally be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s just like the legs of a bedridden person. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become really weak. They could stop working entirely. They might need to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s hard to undo the damage. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
You’re likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You might not even hardly be aware of it. The good news is that it’s not the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
Research has shown that people that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was slowed in individuals who began using their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.
As you age, try to remain connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Get your hearing tested. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!