Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? You’re not imagining it. It really is becoming harder to remember things in everyday life. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it is. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a connection between loss of memory and loss of hearing.
If you believe that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
Neglected hearing loss is often that reason. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to slow down its progression substantially and, in many cases, bring back your memory.
Here are a few facts to consider.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
They’re not unrelated. Cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work overtime to overcome hearing loss. Listening to things takes additional effort. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You attempt to determine what people most likely said by eliminating unlikely possibilities.
Your brain is under extra strain as a result. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be especially stressful. This can result in embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even resentment.
Stress has a major effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss advances, something new occurs.
This strain of having to work overtime to hear and asking 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 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 created to be social. Even introverts struggle when they’re never around other people.
A person with disregarded hearing loss gradually becomes secluded. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat themselves at social events making them much less enjoyable. You start to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You might be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio may not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being alone just seems simpler. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them now.
This regular lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As somebody who is coping with neglected hearing loss starts to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Regions of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They stop working.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for a long time. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could stop working entirely. Learning to walk again could require physical therapy.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a great deal more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
You’re most likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even barely notice it. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
In these studies, those who were wearing their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than someone of a similar age who doesn’t have hearing loss. Individuals who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to slow the progression considerably.
Stay connected and active as you age. If you want to keep your memory intact you should recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And if there’s any reason you aren’t using your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!