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. It really is becoming harder to remember things in everyday life. Memory loss seems to progress rather quickly once it’s noticed. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it becomes. Most people aren’t aware that there’s a connection between loss of memory and loss of hearing.

If you believe that this is just a natural 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 discovering the cause of your loss of memory, you can take measures to slow its development significantly and, in many instances, bring your memory back.

Here are some facts to think about.

How neglected hearing loss can result in memory loss

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

Mental exhaustion

To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to work extra hard. Listening to things demands extra effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind needs to work to process.

It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You attempt to determine what people probably said by eliminating unlikely possibilities.

This puts a lot of additional strain on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. This can lead to embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.

Stress has a significant impact on how we process memory. Mental resources that we should be using for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.

As the hearing loss advances, something new takes place.

Feeling older

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

Social isolation

We’ve all heard the trope of the person who’s so lonely that they start to lose touch with reality. Humans are social creatures. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never with other people.

Neglected hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. Social gatherings are not so enjoyable because you have to ask people to repeat themselves. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you may zone out and feel alone. The radio may not even be there to keep you company over time.

Being on your own just seems easier. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them anymore.

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

Brain atrophy

As someone with neglected hearing loss begins to seclude themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction commences in the brain. Regions of the brain aren’t being stimulated anymore. They stop functioning.

Our brain functions are very coordinated. Hearing is linked to speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other skills.

There will normally be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain activity, like hearing, which is also connected to memory.

It’s just like the legs of a person who is bedridden. When they are sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become very weak. They could stop working altogether. They might have to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.

But the brain is different. Once it goes down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Brain Scans demonstrate this shrinkage.

How a hearing aid can stop memory loss

You’re probably still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It might be barely noticeable. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is contributing to memory loss, and that’s the good news.

It’s untreated hearing loss.

In these studies, people who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than a person around the same age who has healthy hearing. The advancement of memory loss was delayed in people who began using their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.

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. Schedule a hearing exam. And consult us about a solution if you’re not using 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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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