September is World Alzheimer’s Month! You can participate in this international campaign that focuses on brain health by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Treating hearing loss can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and developing conditions like Alzheimer’s. Hearing loss treatment also offers countless benefits that are life-changing, enhancing the quality and longevity of your life!
World Alzheimer’s Month
World Alzheimer’s Month began in 2012. Organized by Alzheimer’s Disease International, this global initiative prioritizes raising awareness about dementia and the stigma that’s often associated with it. Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses several medical conditions characterized by reduced cognitive functioning. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia and consists of up to 90% of the dementia people experience.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 6 million people were living with Alzheimer’s disease (in the U.S.) in 2020. This number is expected to rapidly increase, reaching 14 million people by 2060. Experts do not fully understand the exact causes of Alzheimer’s and suggest that it occurs likely due to a range of factors that impact people differently – age, genetics, environment, diet, health etc. Identifying and addressing risk factors is an important intervention in preventing or delaying changes to brain health. Substantial research shows that hearing loss is a medical condition that increases the risk of cognitive decline.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Alzheimer’s
Research shows that hearing loss impacts the brain in ways that can contribute to reduced functioning. Hearing loss is a process that happens both in the ears and in the brain. Studies have shown that areas of the brain responsible for processing sounds become less active and can experience reorganization. This changes neural networks and can lead to shrinkage of these areas, producing a declining effect. Additionally, researchers suggest that the brain can also be impacted by the social withdrawal that people with untreated hearing loss commonly experience. Social withdrawal is a major outcome of hearing loss and avoiding social settings, interactions, and activities results in less stimulation and engagement for the brain. This can also contribute to cognitive decline.
The impact untreated hearing loss can have on brain health is highlighted by numerous studies. This includes a 2019 study conducted recently by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. After assessing the hearing and cognitive capacities of over 10,000 participants (ages 62 and older) for an 8-year period, researchers found that cognitive decline was:
- 30% higher among people with mild hearing loss
- 42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss
- 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss
These findings reveal a significant correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline which leads to the development of conditions like Alzheimer’s
Hearing Aids Can Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s
Treating hearing loss can drastically enhance overall health and wellness in countless ways. Not only does treating hearing loss maximize hearing capacity, but it also transforms communication. Strengthened communication positively impacts all aspects of life; improving relationships, social life, job performance, sense of self etc. Treatment also improves mental and cognitive health. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. This provides the ears and brain with significant support, strengthening their capacity to carry out their essential functions.
Research shows that hearing aids improve brain health. This includes a 2020 study published in Science Daily that involved examining how hearing aids impact the brain. Researchers assessed hearing and cognitive abilities for nearly 100 participants before and after using hearing aids. They found that, “97% of participants showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function (mental ability to plan, organize information and initiate tasks)”. This underscores the ways in which hearing aids strengthen cognitive function which reduces the risk of experiencing decline.
World Alzheimer’s Month is a great reminder to prioritize your health! You can commit today by taking the simple step of scheduling an appointment for a hearing test with us today. Hearing tests involve a painless and noninvasive process that identifies your hearing needs. This informs effective ways to meet those needs, transforming your hearing and overall health!