Are you forgetting something? You’re not imagining it. It really is getting harder to remember things in daily life. Loss of memory seems to develop rather quickly once it’s noticed. The more you are aware of it, the more incapacitating it becomes. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a link between loss of memory and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t just a normal occurrence of aging. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many individuals that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take steps to slow down its progression substantially and, in many cases, bring back your memory.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How untreated hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a link. In fact, researchers have found that people with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive issues.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work overtime to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things demands extra effort. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where before it just occurred naturally.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When trying to listen, you remove the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone probably said.
Your brain is under extra strain because of this. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a major impact on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
As the hearing loss advances, something new happens.
This strain of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of a person whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Humans are social creatures. Even introverts struggle when they’re never around other people.
A person with untreated hearing loss gradually becomes secluded. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat what they said at social events making them a lot less enjoyable. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel secluded. The radio may not even be there to keep you company over time.
It’s just better to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
As someone who is coping with untreated hearing loss starts to isolate themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. Parts of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop working.
Our brain functions are very coordinated. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
There will typically be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s exactly like the legs of a bedridden person. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could possibly just quit working completely. Learning to walk again might call for physical therapy.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a lot more challenging to rehabilitate. 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 still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It might be hardly noticeable. 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, individuals who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than someone around the same age who has healthy hearing. Those who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms began were able to slow the progression significantly.
As you age, 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. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Have your hearing tested. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.