Feel like you may be forgetting something crucial? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. 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 normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. There’s always an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Neglected hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? By discovering the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to delay its advancement substantially and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
This is what you should know.
How untreated hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a link. Cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who suffer from hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things takes added effort. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where in the past it just happened naturally.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You try to determine what people probably said by eliminating unlikely choices.
Your brain is under added strain as a result. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be really stressful. This can cause embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.
How we process memory can be significantly affected by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
And something new starts to occur as hearing loss progresses.
You can start to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and struggling to hear. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with other people, even introverts struggle.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat what they said at social events making them much less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. Even when you’re in a room with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel alone. The radio may not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being on your own just seems simpler. You feel like you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
This regular lack of mental stimulus makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As somebody who is coping with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. When this occurs, those regions of the brain atrophy and quit working.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the different regions of the brain. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
There will normally be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for a long period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They may quit working altogether. Learning to walk again might require physical therapy.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a great deal more challenging to rehabilitate. The brain actually begins to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
You’re likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even barely notice it. The great news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.
In these studies, individuals who were using their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than somebody of a similar age who has healthy hearing. People who started using hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression substantially.
Stay connected and active as you get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.