Are you forgetting something? You aren’t imagining it. It really is getting harder to remember things in daily life. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
If you think that this is just a natural part of getting older, you would be wrong. 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 memory being impacted by hearing loss? By discovering the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to delay its progression considerably and, in many cases, bring back your memory.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How neglected hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a link. In fact, researchers have found that individuals with neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other profound cognitive problems.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to make an effort to hear things. Now, your brain has to work hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. When trying to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone most likely said.
Your brain is under additional strain because of this. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
How we process memory can be seriously impacted by stress. When we’re stressed out, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be using for memory.
And something new begins to happen as hearing loss worsens.
This stress of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can start a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of somebody who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. We humans are social creatures. Even introverts struggle when they’re never with other people.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. Family and friends start to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a room with lots of people, you might space out and feel alone. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
This frequent lack of mental stimulus makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when someone begins to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Parts of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this occurs, those regions of the brain atrophy and quit working.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the various parts of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can slowly move to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is connected to this process.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for an extended period of time. When they’re sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles get very weak. They could possibly just stop working completely. Learning to walk again could call for physical therapy.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a lot more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It might be hardly noticeable. 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 these studies, individuals who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than somebody around the same age who has healthy hearing. Those who began using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression significantly.
As you age, try to stay connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And consult us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.