Are you forgetting something? You aren’t imagining it. It really is getting harder to remember things in everyday life. Memory loss seems to develop rather quickly once it’s noticed. The more aware you are of it, the more incapacitating it is. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t just a natural occurrence of aging. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? You can slow down the onset of memory loss significantly and maybe even get some back if you are aware of what’s causing it.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How neglected hearing loss can result in memory loss
There is a connection. In fact, researchers have found that those with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive problems.
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 brain needs to work to process.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When attempting to hear, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone probably said.
Your brain is under extra strain because of this. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be very stressful. This can lead to embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even resentment.
Stress has a significant effect on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
As the hearing loss advances, something new happens.
You can start to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. This can begin a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of someone who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts have a hard time.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat what they said at social functions making them a lot less enjoyable. Family and friends begin to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you may space 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 like you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when somebody begins to physically or mentally seclude themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. When this happens, those regions of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
There will usually be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles get really weak. They may quit working altogether. They may have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to undo the damage. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
You’re likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It might be barely noticeable. The good news is that it’s not the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
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. The progression of memory loss was slowed in individuals who began wearing 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. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Get your hearing tested. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.