Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is becoming more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. 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 getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
Disregarded hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing affecting your memory? By knowing the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to delay its development considerably and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
Here are some facts to think about.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They’re not unrelated. Cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to struggle to hear things. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where before it just happened naturally.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning skills. You attempt to figure out what people most likely said by eliminating unlikely choices.
Your brain is under added strain because of this. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. This can cause embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.
Stress has a major effect on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
And something new begins to occur as hearing loss worsens.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Human beings are created to be social. Even people who are introverted struggle when they’re never around others.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat themselves at social events making them much less enjoyable. Friends and family begin to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you might zone out and feel alone. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being alone just seems simpler. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them now.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As somebody who is coping with untreated hearing loss starts to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. When this happens, those regions of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the different regions of the brain. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for an extended time. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become very weak. They may quit working altogether. Learning to walk again may call for physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
You’re probably still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You might not even hardly be aware of it. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
In this research, people who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than a person of a similar age who doesn’t have hearing loss. Those who began using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression significantly.
As you get older, try to stay connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is 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.