Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is getting more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to advance fairly quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
If you think that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Neglected hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? By identifying the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to delay its advancement significantly and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
Here’s what you should know.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
They aren’t unrelated. In fact, scientists have found that people with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other profound cognitive problems.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to overcome hearing loss. You have to strain to hear things. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain has to work to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You attempt to figure out what people probably said by eliminating unlikely choices.
This puts a lot of added stress on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills lead you astray. This can lead to embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new takes place.
This strain of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can begin a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with other people, even introverts have a hard time.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. You need to have people repeat themselves at social functions making them a lot less enjoyable. Family and friends begin to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might space out and feel alone. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being alone just seems simpler. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them now.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As someone with untreated hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. There’s no more stimulation reaching regions of the brain. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could possibly just stop working completely. Learning to walk again might require physical therapy.
But with the brain, this damage is a great deal more difficult to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
You’re probably still in the beginning 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 leads to memory loss.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
Research has revealed that individuals that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. Individuals who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression significantly.
As you age, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Get your hearing checked. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please consult us about solutions – we can help!