Feel like you might 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, memory loss seems to advance quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
If you believe that this is just a normal part of the aging process, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Ignored hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? By determining the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to delay its development substantially and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They’re not unrelated. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that those with neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive issues.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will have to work overtime to compensate for hearing loss. You have to strain to listen to something. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind has to work to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When trying to listen, you eliminate the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone probably said.
This puts lots of additional stress on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a major effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
And something new begins to take place as hearing loss worsens.
You can begin to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and struggling to hear. This can start a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of someone who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. Humans are social creatures. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never around other people.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to have phone conversations. Social get-togethers are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat themselves. Family and friends start to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel secluded. Eventually, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being alone just seems easier. You feel like you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when a person begins to physically or mentally isolate themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching 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 regions of the brain. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions including hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could possibly just stop working completely. They might need to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a great deal more difficult 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 most likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be hardly noticeable. It’s not 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.
Studies have revealed that people 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. People who began 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. 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 talk to us about solutions – we can help!