Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

Are you forgetting something? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering everyday things is getting more and more difficult. Loss of memory seems to progress fairly quickly once it’s noticed. The more you are aware of it, the more incapacitating it is. Did you know memory loss is linked to hearing loss?

If you believe that this is simply a normal part of getting older, you would be wrong. Losing the ability to process memories always has an underlying reason.

For many people that cause is untreated hearing loss. Is your memory being impacted by hearing loss? By discovering the cause of your memory loss, you can take measures to delay its advancement substantially and, in many cases, bring back your memory.

This is what you need to know.

How neglected hearing loss can lead to memory loss

They’re not unrelated. Cognitive problems, such as 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.

Mental exhaustion

Initially, the brain will have to work overtime to overcome hearing loss. You have to strain to hear things. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your brain has to work to process.

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

This puts a lot of extra stress on the brain. And when you’re unable to accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be particularly stressful. This can result in embarrassment, misunderstandings, and even bitterness.

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

And something new begins to happen as hearing loss progresses.

Feeling older

You can begin to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and straining to hear. 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 someone whose loneliness causes them to lose their grip on the world around them. We humans are social creatures. Even people who are introverted have difficulty when they’re never with other people.

A person with disregarded hearing loss gradually becomes isolated. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need to have people repeat what they said at social gatherings making them a lot less enjoyable. Friends and family start to exclude you from discussions. Even when you’re in a setting with lots of people, you may space out and feel secluded. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.

Being alone just seems simpler. 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 frequently stimulated it becomes difficult to process new information.

Brain atrophy

A chain reaction commences in the brain when someone begins to physically or mentally isolate themselves. There’s no more stimulation going to regions of the brain. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.

Our brain functions are very coordinated. Abilities like problem solving, learning, speech, and memory are all related to hearing.

There will usually be a slow spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.

It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when someone is bedridden for a long time. When they’re sick in bed for an extended time, leg muscles become really weak. They could quit working entirely. They might have to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.

But with the brain, this damage is a great deal more challenging to rehabilitate. The brain actually begins to shrink. Brain Scans show this shrinkage.

How memory loss can be prevented by hearing aids

If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the beginning stages of memory loss. It might be hardly noticeable. The good news is that it’s not the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.

It’s the fact that the hearing loss is untreated.

Research has revealed that people that have hearing loss who regularly use their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as someone of the same age with healthy hearing. The progression of memory loss was slowed in people who started wearing their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.

Stay connected and active as you get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Don’t disregard your hearing health. Schedule a hearing test. And if there’s any reason you aren’t wearing your hearing aid, please consult us about solutions – we can help!

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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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