Feel like you may be forgetting something crucial? You aren’t imagining it. It really is becoming harder to remember things in everyday life. Once you become aware of it, loss of memory seems to progress quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a connection between memory loss and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t just a normal part of aging. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Ignored hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? By discovering the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to slow down its progression considerably and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
This is what you should know.
How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss
They’re not unrelated. Cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to struggle to listen to something. Now, your brain needs to work hard where before it just happened naturally.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When attempting to hear, you remove the unlikely choices to figure out what someone most likely said.
Your brain is under additional strain because of this. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be very stressful. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a significant effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed out, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new occurs.
This stress of having to work harder to hear and needing people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can start a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. Even people who are introverted struggle when they’re never with others.
A person with neglected hearing loss slowly becomes secluded. It’s harder to talk on the phone. You need people to repeat themselves at social gatherings making them a lot less pleasant. Family and friends start to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a room with lots of people, you might zone out and feel alone. In the long run, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just better to spend more time alone. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them anymore.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
As someone who is coping with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. When this occurs, those regions of the brain atrophy and quit working.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
There will usually be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for an extended period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They may possibly just stop working completely. They might 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. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans demonstrate this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
You’re most likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely noticeable. The good news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
Research has shown that people that have 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. People who started using 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 linked to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.