Gilberts Audiology & Hearing Aid Center - Oklahoma

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? It isn’t your imagination. Remembering day-to-day things is getting harder and harder. Loss of memory seems to develop fairly quickly once it’s noticed. The more aware you are of it, the more debilitating it becomes. Most people don’t realize that there’s a link between loss of memory and hearing loss.

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

Disregarded hearing loss is often that reason. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? You can slow down the onset of memory loss significantly and maybe even get some back if you are aware of the cause.

Here’s what you need to know.

How untreated hearing loss can result in memory loss

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

Mental exhaustion

Initially, the brain will need to work harder to compensate for hearing loss. You have to struggle to listen to something. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where in the past it just occurred naturally.

You begin to use your deductive reasoning abilities. When trying to listen, you remove the unlikely choices to figure out what someone most likely said.

This puts a lot of added stress on the brain. It’s especially stressful when your deductive reasoning skills let you down. The consequence of this can be misconceptions, embarrassment, and sometimes even resentment.

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

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 straining to hear. 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’ve all heard the trope of someone who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. Human beings are created to be social. Even introverts struggle when they’re never around others.

Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. Talking on the phone becomes a chore. You need people to repeat themselves at social events making them a lot less pleasant. Family and friends start to exclude you from discussions. You may be off in space feeling separated even when you’re with 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 now 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

As somebody who is coping with neglected hearing loss starts to isolate themselves either physically or just mentally, a chain reaction starts in the brain. There’s no more stimulation going to regions of the brain. When this takes place, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop functioning.

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

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

It’s similar to how the legs become atrophied when a person is bedridden for an extended period of time. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a period of time. They could quit working altogether. They might need to have 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 prevent memory loss

You’re likely still in the beginning stages of hearing loss if you’re reading this. It may be barely noticeable. The good news is that it isn’t the hearing loss that leads to memory loss.

It’s untreated hearing loss.

Research has revealed that individuals 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 progression of memory loss was slowed in individuals who started using 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 exam. And if there’s any reason you’re not using your hearing aid, please talk to 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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