Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? You aren’t imagining it. It really is getting more difficult to remember things in everyday life. Memory loss seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s noticed. The more aware you are of it, the more incapacitating it is. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you think that this is just a natural part of the aging process, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
Neglected hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? You can slow down the onset of memory loss significantly and possibly even get some back if you are aware of the cause.
Here are some facts to consider.
How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss
They aren’t unrelated. In fact, researchers have found that people who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive issues.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to make an effort 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 listen, you remove the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone probably said.
Your brain is under additional strain as a result. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be really stressful. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a huge effect on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
And something new begins to take place as hearing loss progresses.
You can start to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of a person whose loneliness causes them to lose touch with the world around them. We humans are social creatures. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never around others.
A person with neglected hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. It’s more difficult to have phone conversations. You need people to repeat themselves at social gatherings making them a lot less enjoyable. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You might be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio may not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel as if you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when someone starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They stop working.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the different parts 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 just like the legs of a bedridden person. When they are sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become very weak. They may quit working entirely. Learning to walk again may require physical therapy.
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 show this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
You’re likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
In these studies, people who were using their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than someone of a similar age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The progression of memory loss was slowed in people who started using their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.
As you age, try to stay connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Have your hearing checked. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!