Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Memory loss seems to advance rather quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t just a normal occurrence of getting older. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing impacting your memory? You can delay the onset of memory loss considerably and maybe even get some back if you know what’s causing it.
This is what you should know.
How neglected hearing loss can result in memory loss
They’re not unrelated. Cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to strain to hear things. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain has to strain to process.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning skills. You attempt to figure out what people probably said by removing unlikely possibilities.
This puts a lot of extra strain on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. This can cause embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
And something new starts to take place as hearing loss progresses.
This stress of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of a person whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Humans are social creatures. Even introverts struggle when they’re never with other people.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to have phone conversations. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. Friends and family begin to exclude you from discussions. You may be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re in a room full of people. In the long run, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel as if you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
As a person who is coping with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. They quit functioning.
Our brain functions are very coordinated. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
There will typically be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended time. When they are sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become really weak. They may possibly just stop working completely. Learning to walk again might call for physical therapy.
But with the brain, this damage is a lot more difficult to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the beginning stages of memory loss. You may not even barely be aware of it. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
In this research, those who were using their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than someone of a similar age who has healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was delayed in people who began using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
As you get older, try to remain connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.