Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. It really is getting more difficult to remember things in everyday life. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. The majority of people don’t realize that there’s a connection between loss of memory and hearing loss.
If you believe that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Ignored hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? You can slow down the onset of memory loss considerably and maybe even get some back if you are aware of what’s causing it.
Here are some facts to consider.
How untreated hearing loss can lead to memory loss
There is a link. 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.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. You have to make an effort to hear things. Now, your brain has to work hard where before it just occurred naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. When trying to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone probably said.
Your brain is under extra strain because of this. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be very stressful. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
Stress has a huge effect on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
And something new begins to happen as hearing loss advances.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. This can begin a downhill spiral in which thoughts 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 begin to lose touch with reality. We humans are social creatures. Even introverts struggle when they’re never with other people.
A person with untreated hearing loss slowly becomes isolated. It’s harder to have phone conversations. You need people to repeat themselves at social gatherings making them much less enjoyable. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You may be off in space feeling secluded 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.
It’s just better to spend more time alone. You feel like 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.
As somebody with untreated hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They stop working.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
There will usually be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for an extended period of time. When they are sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles become very weak. They could possibly just quit working completely. Learning to walk again could call for physical therapy.
But with the brain, this damage is a lot more challenging to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see 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 early stages of memory loss. It may be hardly noticeable. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
Research has revealed that people with hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. People who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms began were able to slow the progression considerably.
Stay connected and active as you age. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing test. And if there’s any reason you aren’t using your hearing aid, please talk to us about treatment options – we can help!