Senior couple suffering from hearing loss standing in front of a pink backdrop trying to remember something.

Are you forgetting something? You’re not imagining it. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to develop rather quickly once it’s detected. It becomes more debilitating the more aware of it you become. Most people don’t realize that there’s a connection between loss of memory and loss of hearing.

If you think that this is just a normal 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 ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? By identifying the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to slow its advancement substantially and, in many instances, bring back your memory.

Here are some facts to consider.

How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss

They’re not unrelated. Cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in individuals who have hearing loss.
There are complicated interrelated reasons for this.

Mental exhaustion

Initially, the brain will have to work harder to overcome hearing loss. You have to strain to hear things. Now, your brain needs to work extra hard where in the past it just happened naturally.

It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You try to figure out what people probably said by eliminating unlikely choices.

This puts a lot of additional stress on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. The consequence of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.

How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be utilizing for memory.

As the hearing loss progresses, something new happens.

Feeling older

You can start to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat what they said and straining to hear. This can begin a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Social solitude

We’ve all heard the trope of somebody who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with other people, even introverts have a hard time.

A person with untreated hearing loss slowly becomes secluded. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social get-togethers are not so enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. Family and friends begin to exclude you from discussions. You may 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 as if you can’t relate to your friends now because you feel older than them even though you’re not.

This regular lack of mental stimulation makes it more difficult for the brain to process new information.

Brain atrophy

As someone with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or even mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Parts of the brain are no longer being stimulated. They stop working.

Our brain functions are extremely interconnected. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.

There will typically be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.

It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for an extended time. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could quit working altogether. They might need 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 undo the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can see this on brain scans.

How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids

You’re most likely still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely noticeable. It’s not 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 someone around the same age who doesn’t have hearing loss. Those who started wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression substantially.

Stay connected and active as you age. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Have your hearing tested. And get in touch with us about a solution if you’re not wearing your hearing aid for some reason.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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