Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. It really is becoming more difficult to remember things in everyday life. Once you notice it, loss of memory seems to progress quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it becomes. Most people don’t realize that there’s a connection between loss of memory and hearing loss.
And no, this isn’t just a normal part of aging. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.
For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your hearing impacting your memory? You can delay the onset of memory loss significantly and possibly even get some back if you know the cause.
Here are some facts to think about.
How neglected hearing loss can contribute to memory loss
There is a relationship. Cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who suffer from hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
At first, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. Listening to things takes additional effort. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where before it just happened naturally.
You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When attempting to listen, you remove the unlikely choices to determine what someone probably said.
This puts lots of added stress on the brain. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning abilities it can be especially stressful. This can cause embarrassment, misconceptions, and even resentment.
Stress has a significant effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed out, we’re spending brain resources that we should be using for memory.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new occurs.
This stress of having to work harder to hear and needing people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’re all familiar with that narrative of someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Humans are social creatures. When they’re never with others, even introverts have a hard time.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat what they said at social gatherings making them much less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You might be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re in a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.
It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them now.
When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.
There’s a high degree of interconnectivity between the different regions 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. 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. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become really weak. They could possibly just quit working completely. They might need to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to undo the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.
How a hearing aid can stop memory loss
You’re most likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even hardly notice it. The good news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
Studies have revealed that individuals that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was delayed in people who began using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you get older. If you want to keep your memory intact you should understand that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t disregard your hearing health. Have your hearing evaluated. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!