Are you forgetting something? You’re not imagining it. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a natural part of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take steps to slow its development substantially and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
Here are a few facts to consider.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a link. Cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. You have to struggle to listen to something. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain has to work to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When attempting to hear, you remove the unlikely choices to determine what someone probably said.
Your brain is under added strain as a result. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. This can result in 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 experiencing stress.
And something new begins to happen as hearing loss advances.
This stress of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of someone who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are created to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts struggle.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. You start to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You might be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio may not even be there to keep you company over time.
It’s just better to spend more time by yourself. You feel like 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 someone with neglected hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Regions 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 related to hearing.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for an extended time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could possibly just stop working completely. They might have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to undo the damage. The brain actually starts to shrink. 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 might not even barely be aware of it. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
In this research, those who were using their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than someone around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The progression of memory loss was delayed in people who started wearing their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.
As you age, try to stay connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Get your hearing tested. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about solutions – we can help!