Are you forgetting something? You’re not imagining it. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a connection between memory loss and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t simply a natural part of aging. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many individuals that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By determining the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to delay its progression considerably and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
Here’s what you need to know.
How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss
They aren’t unrelated. Cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work overtime to overcome hearing loss. Listening to things demands additional effort. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain needs to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When attempting to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to determine what someone most likely said.
Your brain is under extra strain because of this. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be very stressful. This can result in embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.
Stress has a huge effect on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
And something new starts to occur as hearing loss progresses.
You can begin to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and straining to hear. 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 someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are created to be social. When they’re never with other people, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with untreated hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat themselves at social functions making them much less enjoyable. Friends and family begin to exclude you from discussions. You might be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re in a room full of people. Eventually, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being on your own just seems simpler. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
This regular lack of mental stimulus makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. When this happens, those regions of the brain atrophy and quit working.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the different parts of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is connected to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for an extended period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could stop working altogether. They may need to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But with the brain, this damage is much more difficult to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe 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 isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
Studies have shown that individuals that have 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. Individuals who started wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to slow the progression substantially.
Stay connected and active as you age. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Get your hearing tested. And consult us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.