Feel like you may be forgetting something important? It’s not your imagination. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Loss of memory seems to progress rather quickly once it’s detected. The more aware you are of it, the more incapacitating it is. Most people don’t realize that there’s a link between loss of memory and loss of hearing.
If you think that this is just a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
For many people that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing affecting your memory? By identifying the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to delay its development considerably and, in many instances, bring your memory back.
Here’s what you should know.
How neglected hearing loss can result in memory loss
There is a link. In fact, researchers have found that individuals with neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other profound cognitive problems.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. Listening to things requires added effort. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your mind has to work to process.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning skills. You try to determine what people probably said by removing unlikely choices.
This puts lots of additional strain on the brain. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be particularly stressful. This can lead to embarrassment, misconceptions, and even resentment.
Stress has a significant impact on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new occurs.
You can start to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and straining to hear. This can begin a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. Even introverts have difficulty when they’re never around other people.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to have phone conversations. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. Friends and family begin to exclude you from discussions. You might be off in space feeling secluded even when you’re with a room full of people. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just better to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them now.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when someone starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this happens, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop working.
Our brain functions are very coordinated. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.
This loss of function in one region of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a person who is bedridden. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles get very weak. They could possibly just stop working completely. They may need to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But with the brain, this damage is much more difficult to rehabilitate. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably still in the early 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 untreated.
Research has revealed that people that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. People who began using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to delay the progression considerably.
As you age, try to stay connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Have your hearing tested. And talk to us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.