Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is getting more and more difficult. Memory loss seems to progress rather quickly once it’s noticed. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a normal part of aging. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Disregarded hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take steps to slow down its advancement considerably and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
This is what you should know.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
There is a relationship. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that individuals with neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other profound cognitive issues.
The reasons for this higher risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. You have to make an effort to listen to something. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain needs to strain to process.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. When trying to listen, you remove the unlikely possibilities to determine what someone most likely said.
This puts lots of extra stress on the brain. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be especially stressful. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
Stress has a significant effect on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new takes place.
You can begin to “feel older” than you 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 come to be 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. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with others, even introverts have a hard time.
A person with disregarded hearing loss slowly becomes secluded. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. Social get-togethers are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. Friends and family start to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you may space out and feel secluded. 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 people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
This frequent lack of mental stimulus makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when a person begins to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Regions of the brain are no longer being stimulated. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
Our brain functions are very coordinated. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can slowly move to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is linked to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a bedridden person. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may possibly just quit working completely. They may have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
You’re likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even hardly notice it. The good news is that it’s not the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
In this research, individuals who were wearing their hearing aids on a regular basis 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 noticing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you age. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please consult us about treatment options – we can help!