Feel like you may be forgetting something crucial? It’s not your imagination. It really is getting more difficult to remember things in daily life. Once you become aware of it, loss of memory seems to develop quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a natural part of getting older. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Disregarded hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your memory being affected by hearing loss? By determining the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to slow down its progression significantly and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
Here are a few facts to consider.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They aren’t unrelated. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that individuals who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other profound cognitive issues.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things demands additional effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind needs to work to process.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. You attempt to figure out what people most likely said by eliminating unlikely choices.
This puts a lot of added stress on the brain. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be really stressful. This can lead to embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be seriously affected by stress. When we’re stressed out, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new happens.
You can start to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and straining 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’re all familiar with that story of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts have a hard time.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat themselves at social gatherings making them a lot less enjoyable. You start to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You may be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel like you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
As somebody who is coping with untreated hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. They stop working.
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 activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s analogous 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 possibly just stop working completely. They might have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But with the brain, this damage is a great deal more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
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 barely notice it. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
In this research, people who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than someone of a similar age who doesn’t have hearing loss. Individuals who started using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression substantially.
Stay connected and active as you get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing test. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about solutions – we can help!