Are you forgetting something? You’re not imagining it. It really is becoming harder to remember things in everyday life. Memory loss seems to advance fairly quickly once it’s detected. The more you are aware of it, the more debilitating it becomes. The majority of people aren’t aware that there’s a link between memory loss and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t simply a natural part of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Disregarded hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing affecting your memory? By discovering the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to delay its advancement significantly and, in many cases, bring back your memory.
Here’s what you need to know.
How untreated hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a relationship. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that individuals who have untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive issues.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will have to work overtime to compensate for hearing loss. You have to strain to listen to something. Now, your brain needs to work extra hard where before it just occurred naturally.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. You attempt to figure out what people probably said by removing unlikely choices.
Your brain is under added strain because of this. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. This can cause embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be seriously affected by stress. 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 progresses.
This strain of having to work overtime to hear and asking people to repeat themselves 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’ve all heard the trope of somebody who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant 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. You need people to repeat what they said at social events making them much less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You may be off in space feeling separated even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio may not even be there to keep you company over time.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel like you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
As somebody with neglected hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Regions of the brain are no longer being stimulated. When this happens, those regions of the brain atrophy and quit working.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the various parts of the brain. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could possibly just stop working completely. Learning to walk again may require physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to undo the damage. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It may be barely noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
Research has revealed that individuals that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was slowed in individuals who began using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
As you age, try to stay connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Schedule a hearing test. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.