Is there someone in your life who you are finding is forgetting more and more small things and more about the life you’ve shared together? They may be yet another victim of Alzheimer’s disease. This degenerative brain disease affects over 50 million people worldwide. Each September, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) holds an international campaign to advocate, raise awareness and challenge the stigma of dementia. Find out what you can do join the campaign!
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, is a neurodegenerative disease which occurs as brain cells become damaged and cannot communicate with one another. It affects memory and over time motor skills and a persons’ ability to communicate and finish daily tasks. It can be overwhelming, not only those with this devastating disease, but also for their careers and loved ones. It often rests on the family to provide 24hour care for those affected.
Who is at Risk?
Worldwide, approximately 50 million people have dementia, with no sign of it becoming less severe. It is estimated that every year there will be approximately 10 million new cases. Dementia affects one in 14 people over the age of 65. Often dementia can be inherited as well. A small portion of the population can inherit dementia as a single gene which directly causes the disease. Those with this gene will develop dementia before 65. However, for everyone else a combination of genes increases or decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
A 2020 Lancet report entitled Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission updated a similar report from 2017 and identified three new modifiable risks to the nine existing which can increase the chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Risk factors are aspects of your lifestyle, environment and genetic background that increase the likelihood of getting a disease. Modifiable risk factors are those which can be changed, (the sooner, the better) These include:
- Mid-life hearing loss
- Less Education
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Weight control and obesity
- Social contact
- Air pollutants
Factors such as less access to education, less accessibility to preventative medical treatment and air pollutants most likely contribute to why this condition affects nearly 60% living in low- and middle-income countries. It is part of World Alzheimer’s Month to raise awareness for these inadequacies which increase the risk for people worldwide.
Hearing Loss and an Increase Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
Worldwide, hearing loss affects Over 5% of the world’s population – or 430 million people. While hearing loss starts in the ears, speech and sounds are processed in the brain. This leaves hearing loss as ultimately, a communication issue. Like dementia, the prevalence of hearing loss is higher in seniors. By the time people reach 65 years old, one in three have hearing loss. T
he Hearing Loss Association of America reports that hearing loss may increase the risk of cognitive problems and increase the risk of dementia. This is because hearing loss creates gaps in the sound information the brain receives. The brain has to strain to fill in the gaps, causing what is known as listening fatigue. Over time people with untreated hearing loss choose to avoid social situations rather than subject themselves to the exhausting task of socialization with hearing loss. This puts many with hearing loss at risk of many modifiable risks, such as depression, lack of social interaction, underactivity and more.
Treat Your Hearing to Combat Alzheimer’s Disease
It is common for hearing loss to decline as we age, so planning to treat it before it becomes a bigger issue is imperative. While there is no way to reverse most types of hearing loss once it’s developed, there are effective methods to treat the condition; The most common being hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the sounds you have lost, making it easier for you to hear the people in your life, be more aware of your environment and stay active and engaged. By amplifying communication abilities, hearing aids can contribute to an improved mood, participation in cognitively stimulating activities and fight cognitive decline contributing to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Treating Hearing Loss
Acknowledge World Alzheimer’s Month by scheduling a hearing test today. The sooner you can hear clearly, the sooner you can start to improve the quality of your life. We’re here to help! Contact us today to make an appointment.