Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering everyday things is becoming more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
If you think that this is simply a natural part of the aging process, you would be wrong. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Ignored hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your memory being affected by hearing loss? You can slow the development of memory loss considerably and possibly even get some back if you are aware of the cause.
This is what you should know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a connection. Cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to make an effort to listen to something. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to figure out what people probably said by eliminating unlikely possibilities.
Your brain is under extra strain as a result. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be really stressful. This can lead to embarrassment, misconceptions, and even resentment.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be using for memory.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new happens.
You can begin to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and straining to hear. This can start 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 meant to be social. Even introverts have difficulty when they’re never around other people.
A person with neglected hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat themselves at social gatherings making them much less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you might zone out and feel alone. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when somebody starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. They stop functioning.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
This lack of function in one area of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is connected to this process.
It’s just 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 may 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. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the early stages of memory loss. You might not even barely notice it. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
In this research, people who were wearing their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than someone around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The progression of memory loss was delayed in individuals who started using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
As you get older, try to stay connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Get your hearing tested. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.