Feel like you may be forgetting something crucial? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is becoming harder and harder. Loss of memory seems to progress rather quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. The majority of people don’t realize that there’s a connection between loss of memory and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t simply a normal occurrence of aging. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Ignored hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? By determining the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to slow down its advancement substantially and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
This is what you should know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They’re not unrelated. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that individuals who have untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other profound cognitive issues.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to struggle to hear things. Now, your brain needs to work extra hard where in the past it just happened naturally.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You attempt to determine what people most likely said by removing unlikely choices.
Your brain is under additional strain because of this. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be very stressful. The consequence of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes 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 advances, something new takes place.
You can begin to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and straining to hear. This can start 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. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with other people, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with neglected hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. It’s more difficult to have phone conversations. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. Family and friends start to exclude you from conversations. You may be off in space feeling separated even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio may not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They quit working.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
This loss of function in one region of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may possibly just quit working completely. Learning to walk again may require physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
You’re most likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You might not even barely notice it. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
In this research, those who were using their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than somebody around the same age who has healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was slowed in people who started using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you age. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.