Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. It really is getting harder to remember things in daily life. Loss of memory seems to progress rather quickly once it’s detected. 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 natural occurrence of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many individuals that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? By determining the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to slow down its advancement significantly and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a connection. Cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things takes extra effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. You attempt to determine what people probably said by eliminating unlikely possibilities.
Your brain is under added strain as a result. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be especially stressful. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new occurs.
You can start to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and struggling to hear. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of someone 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.
A person with neglected hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. Family and friends begin to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel alone. In the long run, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being on your own just seems simpler. 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 frequently stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when somebody begins to physically or mentally seclude themselves. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. When this happens, those regions of the brain atrophy and quit working.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the different regions of the brain. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
There will normally be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s just like the legs of a bedridden person. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They may possibly just quit working completely. Learning to walk again could require physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to reverse the damage. The brain actually begins to shrink. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
You’re most likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely 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 neglected.
Research has shown that people that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. Individuals who started using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression considerably.
As you get older, try to stay connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.