Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is getting more and more difficult. Once you become aware of it, loss of memory seems to progress quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a normal occurrence of aging. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? You can delay the development of memory loss significantly and maybe even get some back if you are aware of the cause.
Here are some facts to consider.
How neglected hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a connection. Cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to make an effort to hear things. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your brain has to work to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When attempting to hear, you eliminate the unlikely possibilities to figure out what someone probably said.
This puts a lot of additional stress on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a huge impact on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
And something new begins to happen as hearing loss worsens.
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 begin a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of somebody 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 have a hard time.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. Family and friends begin to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you might space out and feel secluded. The radio may 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 regular lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As somebody with untreated hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction commences 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 extremely interconnected. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may possibly just quit working completely. They may need to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But with the brain, this damage is much more challenging to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It might be hardly noticeable. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
In this research, individuals who were wearing their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than somebody of a similar age who has healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was slowed in people who started wearing their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.
As you get older, try to stay connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Have your hearing tested. And consult us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.