Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. It really is becoming harder to remember things in daily life. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. Most people don’t realize that there’s a connection between memory loss and hearing loss.
And no, this isn’t simply a natural occurrence of aging. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Ignored hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing affecting your memory? By determining the cause of your memory loss, you can take steps to slow down its progression considerably and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
This is what you should know.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
There is a relationship. Cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to overcome hearing loss. Listening to things demands additional effort. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to figure out what people most likely said by eliminating unlikely choices.
Your brain is under added strain as a result. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
How we process memory can be seriously impacted by stress. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be using for memory.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new takes place.
You can start to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and straining to hear. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with other people, even introverts struggle.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social get-togethers are less enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat what they said. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You may be off in space feeling separated even when you’re in a room full of people. Eventually, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just better to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As a person who is coping with untreated hearing loss starts to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction starts 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 various parts of the brain. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
This loss of function in one region of the brain can slowly move to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for a long period of time. When they are sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles become very weak. They may stop working entirely. They might need to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s hard to undo the damage. The brain actually starts to shrink. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the beginning stages of memory loss. You might not even hardly notice it. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
Studies have revealed that people that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. Those who started using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to slow the progression considerably.
As you get older, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to understand that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And if there’s any reason you’re not using your hearing aid, please talk to us about solutions – we can help!