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

Feel like you may be forgetting something important? You aren’t imagining it. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Once you become aware of it, loss of memory seems to advance quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it is. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a link between loss of memory and loss of hearing.

And no, this isn’t just a natural occurrence of aging. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.

Ignored hearing loss is frequently that reason. Is your ability to remember being impacted by hearing loss? You can slow the onset of memory loss significantly and perhaps even get some back if you know the cause.

This is what you need to know.

How memory loss can be triggered by untreated hearing loss

There is a connection. As a matter of fact, researchers have found that those who have untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive problems.
There are complex interrelated reasons for this.

Mental fatigue

At first, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. You have to make an effort to hear things. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.

You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. When attempting to hear, you remove the unlikely choices to determine what someone most likely said.

Your brain is under extra strain as a result. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. The outcome of this can be misunderstandings, embarrassment, and sometimes even bitterness.

How we process memory can be seriously impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re experiencing stress.

And something new begins to occur as hearing loss progresses.

Feeling older

This stress of having to work harder to hear and needing people to repeat themselves makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can begin a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re actually not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Social isolation

We’re all familiar with that narrative of somebody whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with other people, even introverts struggle.

A person with disregarded hearing loss gradually becomes secluded. It’s harder to talk on the phone. You need to have people repeat what they said at social events making them much less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. You may be off in space feeling separated even when you’re in a room full of people. Eventually, you may not even have the radio to keep you company.

It’s just easier to spend more time by yourself. You feel like you can’t relate to your friends anymore because you feel older than them even though you’re not.

When your brain isn’t regularly stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.

Brain atrophy

A chain reaction starts in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. Parts of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and quit functioning.

There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the different parts of the brain. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.

This lack of function in one region of the brain can gradually spread to other brain functions including hearing. Loss of memory is linked to this process.

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 long time period of time. They could stop working altogether. Learning to walk again might require physical therapy.

But with the brain, this damage is much more difficult to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans demonstrate this shrinkage.

How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids

You’re probably still in the early stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You might 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 untreated hearing loss.

Studies have revealed that people with hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. Individuals who began wearing hearing aids after symptoms appeared were able to delay the progression significantly.

Stay connected and active as you age. If you want to keep your memory intact you need to recognize that it’s closely linked to hearing loss. Be mindful of the health of your hearing. Get your hearing examined. And if there’s any reason you’re not wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about solutions – we can help!

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