Are you forgetting something? You aren’t imagining it. It really is getting harder to remember things in everyday life. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s detected. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. The majority of people don’t realize that there’s a link between memory loss and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t just a natural occurrence of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many individuals that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to delay its advancement significantly and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
Here are some facts to consider.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They’re not unrelated. Cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who suffer from hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. You have to strain to listen to something. Now, your brain needs to work extra hard where in the past it just happened naturally.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to determine what people probably said by eliminating unlikely choices.
This puts lots of extra strain on the brain. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be really stressful. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be using for memory.
As the hearing loss advances, something new occurs.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with other people, even introverts struggle.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. You need people to repeat themselves at social events making them much less enjoyable. Family and friends begin to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you may zone out and feel secluded. In the long run, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being alone just seems easier. You feel as if you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when somebody starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. They quit working.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
This lack of function in one area of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions including hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for a long time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may possibly just quit working completely. They might have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a lot more difficult to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
You’re probably still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even barely notice it. The great news is that it’s not the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
In these studies, people who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than somebody around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. Those who started using hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression significantly.
Stay connected and active as you get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Get your hearing examined. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please talk to us about solutions – we can help!