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

Feel like you might be forgetting something important? You’re not imagining it. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Once you become aware of it, memory loss seems to develop quickly. The more aware you are of it, the more incapacitating it is. Did you know memory loss is connected to hearing loss?

If you believe that this is just a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has a root cause.

For many that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your ability to remember being affected by hearing loss? By knowing the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to delay its advancement significantly and, in many instances, bring your memory back.

Here are some facts to think about.

How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss

They’re not unrelated. As a matter of fact, scientists have found that those who have neglected hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive problems.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.

Mental exhaustion

Initially, the brain will need to work harder to overcome hearing loss. You have to make an effort to hear things. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your brain needs to strain to process.

You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When trying to hear, you remove the unlikely choices to determine what someone probably said.

Your brain is under extra strain because of this. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities lead you astray. This can cause embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even resentment.

Stress has a huge effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed, we’re spending brain resources that we should be using for memory.

And something new starts to occur as hearing loss advances.

Feeling older

This strain of having to work harder to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they are. This can start a downhill spiral in which ideas of “getting old” when you’re still young become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Social withdrawal

We’re all familiar with that story of a person 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. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. Social gatherings are less enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat what they said. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You might be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re in a room full of people. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.

Being on your own just seems easier. 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 harder for the brain to process new information.

Brain atrophy

A chain reaction commences in the brain when a person starts to physically or mentally seclude themselves. There’s no more stimulation going to parts of the brain. They stop working.

There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the various regions of the brain. Skills like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all linked to hearing.

This loss of function in one area of the brain can gradually move to other brain functions like hearing. Memory loss is connected to this process.

It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for a long time. When they’re sick in bed for a long time, leg muscles get really weak. They could quit working altogether. Learning to walk again may 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 observe this on brain scans.

How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss

You’re likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You may not even barely notice it. The great news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.

It’s neglected hearing loss.

Research has revealed that individuals with hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as somebody of the same age with healthy hearing. The advancement of memory loss was delayed in individuals who started using their hearing aids after noticing symptoms.

Stay connected and active as you age. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Don’t dismiss your hearing health. Schedule a hearing test. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please speak with us about treatment options – we can help!

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