Feel like you may be forgetting something important? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is getting more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s detected. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t just a normal part of aging. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many individuals that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? By identifying the cause of your memory loss, you can take steps to slow down its development significantly and, in many cases, bring back your memory.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss
They’re not unrelated. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that individuals who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive issues.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to overcome hearing loss. Listening to things demands extra effort. Now, your brain needs to work hard where before it just happened naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to figure out what people most likely said by eliminating unlikely choices.
This puts a lot of additional stress on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning skills lead you astray. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
Stress has a major impact on how we process memory. When we’re stressed out, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new happens.
You can start to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and struggling to hear. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of somebody who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. Human beings are created to be social. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never around others.
A person with untreated hearing loss slowly becomes secluded. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat what they said at social functions making them a lot less enjoyable. Family and friends begin to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you may space out and feel alone. The radio might not even be there to keep you company after a while.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them anymore.
This frequent lack of mental stimulus makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As someone with neglected hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. They stop functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various regions of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
There will typically be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.
It’s just like the legs of a bedridden person. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become very weak. They could possibly just stop working completely. Learning to walk again may require physical therapy.
But with the brain, this damage is a lot more difficult to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe 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 barely noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
In this research, people who were wearing their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than a person around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The progression of memory loss was slowed in individuals who started wearing their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Get your hearing checked. And if there’s any reason you aren’t using your hearing aid, please talk to us about treatment options – we can help!