Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to develop quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?
If you believe that this is simply a natural part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your memory being affected by hearing loss? By discovering the cause of your memory loss, you can take steps to slow down its development considerably and, in many cases, bring your memory back.
Here’s what you should know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
They aren’t unrelated. Cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who have hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will have to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things demands added 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 attempting to listen, you eliminate the unlikely choices to figure out what someone most likely said.
This puts a lot of added stress on the brain. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be especially stressful. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
How we process memory can be seriously impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.
As the hearing loss worsens, something new takes place.
This stress 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 actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that story of a person whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are created to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts struggle.
A person with neglected hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat themselves at social gatherings making them much less enjoyable. Friends and family begin to exclude you from conversations. You may be off in space feeling separated even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio may not even be there to keep you company after a while.
It’s just better to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when somebody starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. Regions of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They stop functioning.
Our brain functions are very interconnected. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.
There will normally be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended time. When they’re sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles get very weak. They may stop working altogether. Learning to walk again might call for physical therapy.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. The brain actually starts to shrink. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids
If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the early stages of memory loss. It may be barely noticeable. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
In these studies, people who were using their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than someone around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. People who began using hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to slow the progression significantly.
As you age, try to remain connected and active. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to understand that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Get your hearing checked. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.