Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? You’re not imagining it. It really is getting more difficult to remember things in daily life. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. The more you are aware of it, the more debilitating it is. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a normal part of getting older. 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 hearing impacting your memory? By discovering the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to delay its progression significantly and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
This is what you need to know.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
They’re not unrelated. In fact, researchers have found that those with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive problems.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to strain to listen to something. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your brain has to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. When trying to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone most likely said.
This puts lots of additional stress on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning skills lead you astray. The consequence of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
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 take place as hearing loss progresses.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. This can start a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are created to be social. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never around other people.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat themselves at social gatherings making them much less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You may be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re in a room full of people. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
This frequent lack of mental stimulus makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As somebody who is coping with untreated hearing loss starts to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They quit working.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the different regions of the brain. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
This loss of function in one region of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s exactly like the legs of a bedridden person. When they are sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become very weak. They could stop working entirely. Learning to walk again may call for physical therapy.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a great deal more difficult to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. 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 early stages of memory loss. It might be hardly noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
Research has revealed 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 began using hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression significantly.
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. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Get your hearing evaluated. And consult us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.