Are you forgetting something? You aren’t imagining it. It really is becoming harder to remember things in daily life. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to advance quickly. It becomes more debilitating 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 an underlying reason for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Ignored hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? You can slow the onset of memory loss significantly and maybe even get some back if you are aware of what’s causing it.
Here are a few facts to think about.
How untreated hearing loss can lead to memory loss
There is a relationship. Cognitive issues, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. Listening to things requires additional effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your brain has to strain to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. When trying to listen, you remove the unlikely choices to figure out what someone probably said.
This puts lots of additional stress on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills lead you astray. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss advances, something new takes place.
You can start to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of someone who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. Even introverts struggle when they’re never around others.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to have phone conversations. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat themselves. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You may be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company after a while.
Being alone just seems easier. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Parts of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this takes place, those regions of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various parts of the brain. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
This loss 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 exactly 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 altogether. Learning to walk again may require physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to reverse the damage. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the beginning stages of memory loss. You may not even hardly notice it. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
In these studies, individuals 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. Those who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms began were able to slow the progression substantially.
As you get older, try to stay connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Don’t disregard your hearing health. Schedule a hearing test. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please consult us about solutions – we can help!