Are you forgetting something? You aren’t imagining it. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Memory loss seems to progress rather quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a link between memory loss and loss of hearing.
If you think that this is simply a natural part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Disregarded hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? By identifying the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to slow down its progression considerably and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
This is what you should know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a link. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that those who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive issues.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to overcome hearing loss. You have to struggle to hear things. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind needs to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. When attempting to hear, you remove the unlikely possibilities to figure out what someone probably said.
This puts lots of additional stress on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. This can cause embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.
Stress has a significant impact on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new takes place.
This stress of having to work overtime to hear and asking people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can begin a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Human beings are created to be social. When they’re never with other people, even introverts struggle.
A person with disregarded hearing loss slowly becomes isolated. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. Friends and family begin to exclude you from conversations. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might space out and feel secluded. The radio may not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when somebody starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They stop functioning.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
This loss of function in one area of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a bedridden person. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could stop working altogether. Learning to walk again may call for physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to undo the damage. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the early stages of memory loss. It might be hardly noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
Studies have shown that individuals with 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. The progression of memory loss was delayed in people who began using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
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. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Get your hearing tested. And consult us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.