September is World Alzheimer’s Month, which is an international campaign by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia. World Alzheimer’s Month was started in 2012 with World Alzheimer’s Day occurring on the 21st of September. This campaign urges people to take action globally to stop the stigmatization and raise awareness around the disease.
What is Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?
Worldwide, approximately 50 million people have dementia, with nearly 60% living in low- and middle-income countries. Every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases while the estimated proportion of the general population aged 60 and over with dementia at a given time is between 5-8%.
Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke and is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. It can be overwhelming, not only for the people who have it, but also for their careers and families. There is often a lack of awareness and understanding of dementia, resulting in stigmatization and barriers to diagnosis and care.
Dementia is a chronic syndrome in which there is deterioration in cognitive function or the ability to process thought. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgment. Consciousness is not affected. The impairment in cognitive function is commonly accompanied, and occasionally preceded, by deterioration in emotional control, social behavior, or motivation.
Hearing loss and an increase risk for dementia
Hearing loss, a troublesome fact of life for more than 48 million Americans, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, may increase the risk of cognitive problems and even dementia. By the time Americans reach their 70s, two-thirds have hearing loss.
“The general perception is that hearing loss is a relatively inconsequential part of aging,” says Dr. Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Dr. Lin says that recent findings suggest that it may play a much more important role in brain health than we’ve previously thought.
Using hearing aids can lower risk of Alzheimer’s
Hearing loss accelerates cognitive decline in elderly adults, but the use of hearing aids counters this acceleration. A scientific study from France shows that those who use hearing aids have about the same cognitive level as those with normal hearing.
Self-reported hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in elderly adults, according to the extensive 25 year-long study. The study also documents that the use of hearing aids almost eliminates this cognitive decline. While the study does not document that hearing loss has a direct effect on cognitive abilities, the mental and social consequences of a hearing loss probably affect the relation. Therefore, improving hearing ability by using hearing aids or cochlear implants reduces the negative mental effects of a hearing loss and increases the ability to participate in cognitively stimulating activities such as social activities, and thereby slows cognitive decline. By at least partially restoring communication abilities, hearing aids may help improve mood, increase social interactions and enable participation in cognitively stimulating abilities and consequently could slow cognitive decline.
Hearing aid users experience increased quality of life
Surveys show that more than 8 out of 10 hearing aid wearers experience improvements in their overall quality of life. They report less physical and mental exhaustion, better sleep, less depression and better memory than non-wearers, and improved family relationships. The reason is simple: Struggling to hear those closest to us in our daily life makes us feel isolated and cut off from the world. When you understand how much of an impact hearing loss can have on your life the importance of addressing the problem as soon as possible is imperative.
Exceptional Hearing Care
Acknowledge World Alzheimer’s Month with us at Exceptional Hearing Care. If you suspect you have hearing loss, it’s never too early to get your hearing tested. Contact us to set up a hearing test so you can know for sure if a hearing loss is present. If there is hearing loss present, don’t delay in treating it as soon as possible. Your mind depends on it.