Feel like you might be forgetting something important? You aren’t imagining it. It really is getting harder to remember things in daily life. Once you notice it, loss of memory seems to advance quickly. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. The majority of people don’t realize that there’s a connection between memory loss and loss of hearing.
If you think that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
Neglected hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? By identifying the cause of your loss of memory, you can take steps to slow its development considerably and, in many instances, bring back your memory.
Here’s what you should know.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
They’re not unrelated. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that people with untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive issues.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. Listening to things requires added effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind needs to strain to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When attempting to listen, you remove the unlikely possibilities to figure out what someone probably said.
Your brain is under added strain because of this. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. The consequence of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a major impact on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re suffering from stress.
As the hearing loss progresses, something new happens.
This stress of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they are. If you’re constantly thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
We’ve all heard the trope of the person who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. Even people who are introverted struggle when they’re never around others.
Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat themselves at social functions making them much less enjoyable. Friends and family start to exclude you from conversations. You might be off in space feeling separated even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company after a while.
It’s just easier to spend more time alone. You feel older than others your age and don’t feel that you can relate to them anymore.
This regular lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.
As somebody with neglected hearing loss starts to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. They stop working.
Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
There will usually be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.
It’s just like the legs of a bedridden person. Muscles become weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could stop working entirely. Learning to walk again might call for physical therapy.
But when it comes to the brain, this damage is much more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
You’re probably still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even hardly notice it. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.
In this research, those who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than someone of a similar age who has healthy hearing. Those 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 recognize that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Schedule a hearing exam. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!