Feel like you may be forgetting something important? It isn’t your imagination. It really is becoming more difficult to remember things in everyday life. Memory loss seems to advance rather quickly once it’s detected. It becomes more debilitating the more you become aware of it. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?
And no, this isn’t simply a natural occurrence of getting older. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.
Disregarded hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your memory being affected by hearing loss? You can slow down the onset of memory loss considerably and maybe even get some back if you are aware of the cause.
This is what you need to know.
How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss
There is a relationship. Cognitive issues, like 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. You have to make an effort to hear things. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind needs to work to process.
You start to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When trying to hear, you eliminate the unlikely choices to determine what someone probably said.
This puts a lot of extra stress on the brain. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be very stressful. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.
Stress has a major effect 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 worsens, something new occurs.
You can begin to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and struggling to hear. 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. We humans are social creatures. When they’re never with other people, even introverts have a hard time.
Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social get-togethers are not so enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. Friends and family start to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a room with lots of people, you may zone out and feel secluded. Eventually, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.
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.
This frequent lack of mental stimulation makes it harder for the brain to process new information.
A chain reaction commences in the brain when someone starts to physically or mentally isolate themselves. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. They quit functioning.
Our brain functions are extremely coordinated. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.
There will usually be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.
It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended time. When they are sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles get very weak. They may stop working altogether. They may have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.
But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s difficult to reverse the damage. The brain actually begins 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 beginning stages of memory loss. It may be hardly noticeable. It isn’t the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.
It’s untreated hearing loss.
In this research, those who were wearing their hearing aids regularly were no more likely to have memory loss than a person around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The advancement of memory loss was delayed in people who started wearing their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.
Stay connected and active as you age. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Get your hearing examined. And if there’s any reason you aren’t using your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!