Feel like you may be forgetting something crucial? It’s not your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting harder and harder. Once you become aware of it, loss of memory seems to progress quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. The majority of people aren’t aware that there’s a link between loss of memory and hearing loss.
And no, this isn’t simply a normal occurrence of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
Ignored hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? You can delay the onset of memory loss significantly and maybe even get some back if you know the cause.
Here are some facts to consider.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a relationship. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that individuals with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive problems.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to strain to listen to something. While this came naturally in the past, it’s now something your brain has to strain to process.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. You try to determine what people probably said by eliminating unlikely choices.
Your brain is under extra strain as a result. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be really stressful. The consequence of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
Stress has a significant effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed out, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.
And something new begins to occur as hearing loss worsens.
This strain of having to work harder to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can start a downhill spiral in which thoughts of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of a person whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. Even people who are introverted struggle when they’re never with other people.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to talk on the phone. You need to have people repeat what they said at social functions making them much less enjoyable. Family and friends begin to exclude you from discussions. You might be off in space feeling separated even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
Being alone just seems simpler. You feel like you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.
As someone who is coping with untreated hearing loss begins to isolate themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction initiates in the brain. Regions of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They quit functioning.
Our brain functions are extremely coordinated. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all connected to hearing.
This loss of function in one region of the brain can slowly move to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended period of time. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They may stop working altogether. They might have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is much more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
You’re probably still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely noticeable. 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 individuals with hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same chance 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 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. Have your hearing examined. And consult us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.