Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting harder and harder. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
If you think that this is just a natural part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
For many individuals that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? You can slow the onset of memory loss considerably and perhaps even get some back if you know what’s causing it.
This is what you need to know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They aren’t unrelated. Cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who suffer from hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to compensate for hearing loss. You have to strain to listen to something. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind has to work to process.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to determine what people probably said by removing unlikely possibilities.
This puts a lot of additional strain on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. This can result in embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. When we’re stressed out, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
And something new starts to take place as hearing loss worsens.
This stress of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat themselves 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’re all familiar with that narrative of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with other people, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with neglected hearing loss slowly becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat what they said at social gatherings making them a lot less enjoyable. Friends and family begin to exclude you from discussions. You may be off in space feeling separated even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio may not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being alone just seems easier. 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 a person with neglected hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. They stop working.
Our brain functions are extremely coordinated. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
This lack of function in one area of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. When they are sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles get really weak. They could possibly just stop working completely. Learning to walk again may call for physical therapy.
But with the brain, this damage is a great deal more challenging to rehabilitate. The brain actually starts to shrink. Brain Scans demonstrate this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It might be hardly noticeable. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
Research has shown that people that have 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 delay the progression considerably.
Stay connected and active as you get older. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.