Feel like you may be forgetting something important? It’s not your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Memory loss seems to advance fairly quickly once it’s detected. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a natural part of aging. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? By knowing the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to delay its development substantially and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
This is what you need to know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a link. Cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who have hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to overcome hearing loss. You have to strain to listen to something. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where before it just happened naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When trying to hear, you eliminate the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone probably said.
Your brain is under added strain because of this. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be very stressful. The consequence of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
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 experiencing stress.
And something new begins to take place as hearing loss advances.
This stress of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they are. 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 a person whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Human beings are created to be social. Even introverts have difficulty when they’re never with others.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to have phone conversations. Social get-togethers are less enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat what they said. You start to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel secluded. Eventually, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being alone just seems simpler. You feel older than people 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 neglected hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. When this takes place, those parts of the brain atrophy and quit functioning.
Our brain functions are very coordinated. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for a long period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could possibly just quit working completely. They may need to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a lot more difficult to rehabilitate. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It might be barely noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
Research has shown that people with 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 began wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression significantly.
As you get older, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you should recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.