Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Memory loss seems to advance fairly quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. Most people don’t realize that there’s a connection between memory loss and loss of hearing.
If you believe that this is simply a natural part of the aging process, you would be wrong. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Ignored hearing loss is often that reason. Is your memory being affected by hearing loss? You can delay the onset of memory loss substantially and perhaps even get some back if you know the cause.
This is what you should know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They aren’t unrelated. Cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who have hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to overcome hearing loss. Listening to things demands extra effort. Now, your brain has to work hard where before it just occurred naturally.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. You attempt to determine what people most likely said by removing unlikely choices.
This puts a lot of added stress on the brain. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be very stressful. This can result in embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.
Stress has a major impact on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
And something new starts to happen as hearing loss advances.
You can begin to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and straining to hear. This can start a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts struggle.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. 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 start to exclude you from conversations. You may be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being alone just seems simpler. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
As someone who is coping with neglected hearing loss starts to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. When this happens, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various regions of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
This lack of function in one area of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions including hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could quit working altogether. They might have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is much 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 still in the early stages of memory loss. It might be barely noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
Research has shown that individuals that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. Those who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to slow the progression considerably.
Stay connected and active as you get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Have your hearing tested. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.