Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is becoming harder and harder. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s detected. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it becomes. The majority of people don’t realize that there’s a link between loss of memory and hearing loss.
If you think that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to slow its development considerably and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
This is what you should know.
How neglected hearing loss can result in memory loss
They aren’t unrelated. Cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who have hearing loss.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things requires additional effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your brain has to work to process.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. When trying to listen, you remove the unlikely choices to figure out what someone most likely said.
Your brain is under additional strain as a result. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
Stress has a huge effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed out, we’re spending brain resources that we should be using for memory.
And something new starts to occur as hearing loss advances.
This strain of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can become 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 meant to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with untreated hearing loss slowly becomes secluded. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social get-togethers are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat themselves. Family and friends begin to exclude you from conversations. You may be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re with a room full of people. Eventually, you might 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 regularly stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
As a person who is coping with neglected hearing loss starts to isolate themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. They stop working.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
There will typically be a slow 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 someone is bedridden for an extended time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They may stop working altogether. Learning to walk again could require physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s hard to undo the damage. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It may be hardly noticeable. The good news is that it’s not the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
In these studies, individuals who were wearing 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. The progression of memory loss was delayed 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. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing test. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.