Feel like you may be forgetting something crucial? It isn’t your imagination. It really is getting harder to remember things in daily life. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Most people don’t realize that there’s a connection between memory loss and hearing loss.
And no, this isn’t just a normal part of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many people that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By determining the cause of your memory loss, you can take steps to slow down its development substantially and, in many cases, 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. In fact, researchers have found that individuals who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive issues.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to struggle to listen to something. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind has to work to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to determine what people probably said by eliminating unlikely choices.
This puts a lot of added strain on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
And something new starts to happen 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 struggling to hear. This can begin a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of the person who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are created to be social. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never with other people.
A person with neglected hearing loss gradually becomes secluded. 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 start to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel alone. In the long run, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching regions of the brain. They quit functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various regions of the brain. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
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 a long time. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles get very weak. They could possibly just quit working completely. Learning to walk again might call for physical therapy.
But with the brain, this damage is a great deal more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans demonstrate this shrinkage.
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. It might be hardly noticeable. The great news is that it’s not the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
Research has shown that individuals with hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was delayed in people who began using their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you get older. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.