Feel like you might be forgetting something crucial? You aren’t imagining it. Remembering day-to-day things is becoming more and more difficult. Once you notice it, loss of memory seems to develop quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a link between memory loss and loss of hearing.
And no, this isn’t just a natural part of aging. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.
For many that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? You can delay the development of memory loss substantially and possibly even get some back if you are aware of what’s causing it.
Here are some facts to consider.
How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss
They’re not unrelated. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that people who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to experience dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other extreme cognitive problems.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.
Initially, the brain will need to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. Listening to things requires added effort. Now, your brain has to work hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.
It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You attempt to figure out what people probably said by eliminating unlikely choices.
Your brain is under additional strain as a result. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.
How we process memory can be seriously affected by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.
And something new starts to occur as hearing loss advances.
You can begin to “feel older” than you actually are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. This can start a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re still young 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. Humans are social creatures. Even introverts have difficulty when they’re never around other people.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat themselves at social functions making them much less pleasant. You start to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you may space out and feel secluded. In the long run, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
It’s just better to spend more time by yourself. 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 frequently stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.
A chain reaction starts in the brain when somebody begins to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Parts of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this takes place, those parts of the brain atrophy and quit working.
Our brain functions are very coordinated. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.
This lack of function in one area of the brain can slowly spread to other brain functions like hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.
It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for a long period of time. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may possibly just stop working completely. They might need to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.
How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids
You’re probably still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It might be hardly noticeable. The good news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.
It’s neglected hearing loss.
Research has shown that individuals with hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same risk of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. Those 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 recognize that it’s closely related to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Schedule a hearing exam. And if there’s any reason you’re not using your hearing aid, please speak with us about solutions – we can help!
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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.