Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is becoming more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to advance fairly quickly once it’s detected. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it is. The majority of people don’t realize that there’s a link between loss of memory and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t just a natural part of aging. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? You can slow down the development of memory loss substantially and perhaps even get some back if you know what’s causing it.
Here are some facts to consider.
How neglected hearing loss can result in memory loss
They aren’t unrelated. Cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. You have to strain to hear things. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. When attempting to hear, you remove the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone probably said.
Your brain is under extra strain because of this. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be especially stressful. This can lead to embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
And something new starts to happen as hearing loss worsens.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can start a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. Even introverts struggle when they’re never around other people.
A person with untreated hearing loss slowly becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social get-togethers are not so enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. Friends and family begin to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you may zone out and feel alone. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being alone just seems easier. You feel as if you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
This frequent lack of mental stimulus makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As somebody who is coping with untreated hearing loss starts to isolate 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 functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the different parts of the brain. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
There will normally be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s exactly like the legs of a bedridden person. When they’re sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles get very weak. They could stop working altogether. They may need to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a great deal more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
You’re most likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even barely notice it. The good news is that it’s not the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
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. Individuals who started using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression considerably.
As you age, try to remain connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Have your hearing examined. And if there’s any reason you aren’t using your hearing aid, please consult us about treatment options – we can help!