Are you forgetting something? You aren’t imagining it. It really is getting harder to remember things in everyday life. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more incapacitating it is. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a link between loss of memory and hearing loss.
And no, this isn’t just a normal part of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many people that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? You can delay the development of memory loss considerably and perhaps even get some back if you know the cause.
Here are some facts to consider.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a link. 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.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. Listening to things requires extra effort. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where before it just occurred naturally.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. When attempting to listen, you remove the unlikely choices to figure out what someone probably said.
Your brain is under additional strain because of this. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills lead you astray. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new occurs.
You can start 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 ideas of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Humans are social creatures. When they’re never with other people, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with neglected hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. You start to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you may space out and feel alone. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel like 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 a person begins to physically or mentally isolate themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and quit functioning.
Our brain functions are extremely coordinated. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
There will normally 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 someone is bedridden for an extended period of time. When they’re sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles become very weak. They may possibly just quit working completely. Learning to walk again could call for physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to reverse the damage. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the early stages of memory loss. It may be hardly noticeable. The great news is that it’s not the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.
It’s untreated 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 somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. Those who started using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression considerably.
As you get older, try to remain connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Schedule a hearing test. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.