Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Memory loss seems to progress fairly quickly once it’s detected. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you think that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Disregarded hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing impacting your memory? You can delay the onset of memory loss considerably and perhaps even get some back if you know the cause.
Here are some facts to consider.
How untreated hearing loss can lead to memory loss
There is a connection. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that those who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive issues.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. Listening to things takes added effort. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain has to work to process.
It becomes necessary to utilize deductive reasoning. You attempt to figure out what people probably said by eliminating unlikely possibilities.
Your brain is under extra strain because of this. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be especially stressful. This can cause embarrassment, misconceptions, and even resentment.
How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new occurs.
You can begin to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and straining to hear. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of the person who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are created to be social. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never with other people.
A person with untreated hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. It’s harder to talk on the phone. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel secluded. In the long run, you may 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.
When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when somebody begins to physically or mentally seclude themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching parts of the brain. They stop functioning.
Our brain functions are very coordinated. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
This lack of function in one region of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s just like the legs of a bedridden person. When they are sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles get really weak. They could stop working altogether. They might have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to undo the damage. The brain actually begins to shrink. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
You’re most likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It might be barely noticeable. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
In this research, people who were wearing their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than a person of a similar age who has healthy hearing. People who began using hearing aids after symptoms began were able to slow the progression considerably.
Stay connected and active as you age. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Don’t disregard your hearing health. Schedule a hearing test. And if there’s any reason you aren’t using your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!