Hearing Health Blog

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 aren’t imagining it. Remembering everyday things is becoming harder and harder. Once you notice it, memory loss seems to progress quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. The majority of people aren’t aware that there’s a link between loss of memory and 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.

Ignored hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing impacting your ability to remember? You can slow the development of memory loss substantially and perhaps even get some back if you are aware of what’s causing it.

Here are some facts to consider.

How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss

They aren’t unrelated. Cognitive problems, like Alzheimer’s and memory loss, were 24% more likely in people who have hearing loss.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.

Mental fatigue

To begin with, hearing loss causes the brain to over-work. Listening to things takes added effort. While this came naturally before, it’s now something your mind has to strain to process.

It becomes necessary to activate deductive reasoning. You attempt to figure out what people most likely said by removing unlikely possibilities.

Your brain is under added strain as a result. And when you can’t accurately use those deductive reasoning skills it can be particularly stressful. The outcome of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.

How we process memory can be significantly impacted by stress. Mental resources that we should be utilizing for memory get tied up when we’re dealing with stress.

And something new begins to take place as hearing loss worsens.

Feeling older

This strain of having to work overtime to hear and needing people to repeat what they said makes a person “feel older” than they actually are. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Social withdrawal

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

Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s harder to have phone conversations. You need to have people repeat what they said at social functions making them a lot less pleasant. You begin to be excluded from conversations by family and friends. Even when you’re in a setting with a lot of people, you might zone out and feel alone. Eventually, you might not even have the radio to keep you company.

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

This frequent 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 isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. Regions of the brain are no longer being stimulated. When this takes place, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.

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

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

It’s exactly like the legs of a person who is bedridden. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They may possibly just stop working completely. They might need to have physical therapy to learn to walk again.

But when it comes to the brain, this damage is a lot more challenging to rehabilitate. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.

How memory loss can be stopped by hearing aids

You’re probably still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. You might not even hardly be aware of it. The great news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that contributes to memory loss.

It’s untreated hearing loss.

Research has shown that people that have hearing loss who regularly wear their hearing aid have the same chance of developing memory loss as someone 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 get older. Keep your memories, memory loss is linked to hearing loss. Don’t ignore your hearing health. Get your hearing checked. 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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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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