Feel like you might be forgetting something important? It isn’t your imagination. It really is getting harder to remember things in everyday life. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a normal part of getting older. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many people that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? By identifying the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to delay its advancement significantly and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
This is what you need to know.
How untreated hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a relationship. Cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to struggle to hear things. Now, your brain needs to work extra hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning abilities. You try to figure out what people probably said by removing unlikely possibilities.
Your brain is under extra strain because of this. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be really stressful. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a major impact on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
And something new begins to occur as hearing loss advances.
You can begin to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of a person 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 other people, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with disregarded hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. It’s harder to have phone conversations. You need people to repeat what they said at social gatherings making them much less enjoyable. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You might be off in space feeling separated even when you’re with a room full of people. Eventually, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being alone just seems easier. You feel as if you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
This regular lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As a person who is coping with neglected hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They quit working.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
There will typically be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.
It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could quit working entirely. Learning to walk again may call for physical therapy.
But with the brain, this damage is a lot more challenging to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the early stages of memory loss. It may be barely noticeable. The good 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 shown that people that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. People who began using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression substantially.
As you age, try to stay connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to recognize that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Get your hearing checked. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please consult us about treatment options – we can help!