September is World Alzheimer’s Month! Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), in partnership with Alzheimer’s associations around the world, uses this month to raise awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease among seniors and to fight the stigma that surrounds Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases. The ADI provides support to those with Alzheimer’s and their families, and advocates for policy changes to draw more attention to brain health. If you’ve been worried about your brain health, learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease, and how treating your hearing loss could be the key to keeping your brain strong.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, a degenerative brain disease that slowly chips away at your memory, thinking abilities, cognition, and emotions. Every person will experience the stages of Alzheimer’s in their own way, but as the disease progresses, you or your loved one with Alzheimer’s will struggle to communicate, get easily confused, and be unable to perform the tasks of daily life. They’ll eventually need full time care to get through each day.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s include severe memory loss, difficulty following conversations, and struggling to find the right words to say what you want to communicate. Another early sign is having trouble performing routine tasks that used to come very easily, like washing the dishes, or getting dressed. Someone with Alzheimer’s disease will get stuck part way through the task, struggle to remember what step comes next, or not remember what they were doing. Alzheimer’s also affects personality and mood in profound ways, and if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, you’ll soon notice changes as your loved one becomes more irritable, sad, or quick to anger.
Links Between Alzheimer’s and Hearing Loss
Hearing loss and dementia is closely linked – and Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Did you know that those with untreated hearing loss are far more likely to suffer from a dementia than their hearing peers? Numerous studies from the Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging show that hearing loss can greatly increase your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, and hearing loss has severe consequences that you may never have considered.
When you’re struggling to hear, you have a heavy cognitive load that can exhaust your brain. Cells in the frontal lobe deal with higher cognition and critical thinking when you’re straining to make sense of the sounds around you. These cells aren’t able to perform their proper function, and your brain is overwhelmed and tired. You’ll experience more rapid cognitive decline, and increase your risks of a brain disease like dementia.
Hearing loss is also closely tied to social isolation, a major risk factor for developing dementia. When you’re not able to hear clearly, you pull away from loved ones, avoid going to social events, and choose to stay home rather than facing the embarrassment of mishearing what’s been said and answering inappropriately. This social isolation gets worse as your hearing deteriorates, and isolation is another major risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Ignoring your hearing loss might seem like the best solution, especially if you don’t think your hearing loss is very severe. However, living with untreated hearing loss, even a mild hearing loss, will start to affect your brain health. Treating your hearing loss can save your brain, preserve your memories, and keep you active and healthy. When you treat your hearing loss with a quality pair of hearing aids, you’ll be able to hear all the sounds around you. You’ll be able to localize where sounds are coming from and keep yourself and others safe. You’ll follow conversations with ease, and be excited to join your friends, even if its in a crowded restaurant with a lot of background noise. You’ll hear every word and catch the punchline of every joke.
Ready to do the right thing for your hearing health and for your brain? Participate in World Alzheimer’s Month by focusing on your hearing health! Call us today at Hart Hearing to schedule a comprehensive hearing test and consultation, and discover our newest hearing devices that will have you hearing effortlessly.