Feel like you may be forgetting something important? It’s not your imagination. It really is becoming harder to remember things in daily life. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to develop quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. The majority of people don’t realize that there’s a connection between memory loss and hearing loss.
And no, this isn’t just a normal occurrence of aging. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Neglected hearing loss is often that reason. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? By identifying the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to slow down its development considerably and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How untreated hearing loss can lead to memory loss
They aren’t unrelated. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that individuals with neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive issues.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to overcome hearing loss. You have to make an effort to hear things. Now, your brain needs to work extra hard where before it just occurred naturally.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning skills. When attempting to listen, you remove the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone probably said.
This puts lots of added stress on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. This can lead to embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.
Stress has a significant impact on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss advances, something new occurs.
This strain of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can start a downhill spiral in which ideas 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. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with other people, even introverts struggle.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are not so 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 secluded even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company after a while.
It’s just better to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them anymore.
This regular lack of mental stimulus makes it harder for the brain 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 regions of the brain. When this happens, those parts of the brain atrophy and quit functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various parts of the brain. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
This loss of function in one region of the brain can slowly move to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is connected 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 very weak. They could possibly just quit working completely. They might have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to undo the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
You’re likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even hardly be aware of it. The good news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
Studies have revealed that individuals that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was slowed in people who began wearing their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
As you age, try to stay connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you should recognize that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Schedule a hearing test. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!