Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? It isn’t your imagination. It really is getting harder to remember things in everyday life. Once you notice it, loss of memory seems to advance quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more incapacitating it is. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you believe that this is simply a natural part of the aging process, you would be wrong. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Disregarded hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? You can delay the development of memory loss substantially and possibly even get some back if you are aware of what’s causing it.
This is what you should know.
How untreated hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a relationship. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that individuals who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive issues.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. Listening to things demands additional effort. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where in the past it just happened naturally.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When attempting to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone probably said.
This puts lots of extra stress on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, 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 experiencing stress.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new happens.
This stress of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they 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 the person who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts struggle.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to talk on the phone. 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. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you may space out and feel alone. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being alone just seems simpler. You feel like you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
This regular lack of mental stimulus makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when someone begins to physically or mentally seclude themselves. There’s no more stimulation going to regions of the brain. When this takes place, those parts of the brain atrophy and quit working.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
There will typically be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could quit working entirely. They may need to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the early stages of memory loss. You might not even barely notice it. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
Studies have revealed that people that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same chance 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 slow the progression considerably.
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. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.