Feel like you might be forgetting something important? You aren’t imagining it. Remembering day-to-day things is becoming more and more difficult. Memory loss seems to progress rather quickly once it’s noticed. The more you are aware of it, the more incapacitating it becomes. The majority of people aren’t aware that there’s a connection between loss of memory and hearing loss.
If you think that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Ignored hearing loss is often that reason. Is your memory being affected by hearing loss? By identifying the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to slow down its progression substantially 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 relationship. Cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. You have to struggle to listen to something. Now, your brain needs to work hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You try to determine what people probably said by removing unlikely choices.
This puts a lot of extra strain on the brain. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be particularly stressful. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. When we’re stressed out, we’re spending brain resources that we should be using for memory.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new takes place.
This strain 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 constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of a person whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. Even introverts have difficulty when they’re never with others.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to have phone conversations. You need people to repeat what they said at social events making them much less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel alone. The radio may not even be there to keep you company after a while.
It’s just better to spend more time alone. You feel as if you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
This frequent lack of mental stimulus makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As someone who is coping with neglected hearing loss starts to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Regions of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They stop working.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is connected to this process.
It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. When they are sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles become really weak. They could stop working entirely. Learning to walk again might require physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the early stages of memory loss. It may be hardly noticeable. It’s not 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.
Research has shown that people with 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. Those who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression significantly.
As you get older, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to understand that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing test. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.