Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? You aren’t imagining it. Remembering day-to-day things is getting more and more difficult. Memory loss seems to progress rather quickly once it’s noticed. The more you are aware of it, the more debilitating it becomes. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you believe that this is just a natural part of the aging process, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
Neglected hearing loss is often that reason. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? You can slow the development of memory loss considerably and perhaps even get some back if you know the cause.
Here’s what you should know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They aren’t unrelated. In fact, scientists have found that people who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive issues.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to strain to listen to something. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind needs to work to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to determine what people probably said by eliminating unlikely possibilities.
Your brain is under additional strain because of this. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be really stressful. This can result in embarrassment, misconceptions, and even resentment.
How we process memory can be seriously impacted by stress. When we’re stressed, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be using for memory.
As the hearing loss advances, something new happens.
You can start to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. This can begin 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 narrative of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with disregarded hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. It’s harder to have phone conversations. You need to have people repeat themselves at social functions making them much less pleasant. You start to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You may be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being alone just seems easier. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them now.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
As a person who is coping with untreated hearing loss starts to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They quit functioning.
Our brain functions are extremely coordinated. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions including hearing. Loss of memory is connected to this process.
It’s exactly like the legs of a bedridden person. When they are sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles become really weak. They could possibly just stop working completely. They might have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is much more difficult to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
You’re likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even hardly notice it. The great news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
Research has revealed that individuals with hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. Those who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to slow the progression considerably.
As you age, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Have your hearing checked. And if there’s any reason you’re not using your hearing aid, please consult us about solutions – we can help!