Are you forgetting something? You’re not imagining it. It really is getting harder to remember things in daily life. Once you notice it, loss of memory seems to progress quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t just a normal part of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? You can delay the development of memory loss substantially and maybe even get some back if you are aware of the cause.
Here are a few facts to consider.
How neglected hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a connection. Cognitive issues, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who suffer from hearing loss.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to overcome 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.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When trying to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone probably said.
Your brain is under extra strain as a result. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be especially stressful. This can result in embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even resentment.
How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
And something new starts to happen as hearing loss advances.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and asking people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they actually 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 touch with the world around them. Humans are social creatures. When they’re never with others, even introverts struggle.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. You need to have people repeat themselves at social gatherings making them much less enjoyable. Friends and family start to exclude you from conversations. You might be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re with a room full of people. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
Being on your own just seems easier. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
This frequent lack of mental stimulus makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
As somebody with neglected hearing loss starts to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Parts of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this takes place, those regions of the brain atrophy and stop working.
Our brain functions are extremely coordinated. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
There will usually be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for a long period of time. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could 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 hard to reverse the damage. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans reveal this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the early stages of memory loss. You may not even hardly 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, those who were using their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than a person around the same age who has healthy hearing. Those who started wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression significantly.
Stay connected and active as you get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Get your hearing evaluated. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.