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Every September, the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) celebrates World Alzheimer’s Month. ADI uses this month to raise awareness, combat the stigma of the disease and focus on education on ways to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. When we can understand how Alzheimer’s works, and how to minimize its impact we can make educated decisions to protect ourselves and family members from the impact of dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes affecting memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion. First discovered by Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s in 1906, he was able to identify plaque buildup scattered across the brains of diseased patients with similar mental disorders.
It was discovered that this plaque covers brain cells, slowly destroying them. He also discovered what he described as tangles in the brain, of protein deposits which blocked brain cell connections, ultimately destroying brain cells. Dementia starts slowly and becomes worse as more and more brain cells die.
People affected by dementia start to struggle to complete basic tasks of self care, like brushing teeth, preparing a meal or taking a walk. As their memory degrades they often can not recognize or remember the people close to them in life, family members, significant others, friends. This disease requires full time care from family members, or professionals.
How Common is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 90% of all dementia cases. One in ten people (10 percent) age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease. About one-third of people aged 85 and older (32 percent) have Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that worldwide, 5.8 million people who have Alzheimer’s disease, and 80% are age 75 or older.
Modifiable Risk Factors
While there is no cure or way to prevent Alzheimer’s, researchers have found ways to slow its progress or prevent it by eliminating risk factors throughout your life. It is important to remember that even though Alzheimer’s is common as you age, it is not a normal part of aging.
Eat a healthy diet free of saturated fats that can clog your arteries and exercise regularly. Avoid smoking tobacco and excessive alcohol use and stay engaged with the people around you. Staying social is one of the biggest ways you can keep your brain sharp. Join a group, volunteer, explore your hobbies and keep up with sports. The more you stay active, the sharper your brain can be.
Link Between Hearing Loss & Dementia
In order to stay social it is incredibly useful to be able to hear clearly. Hearing loss like dementia also becomes much more likely to develop at 65 years and older. One in three people over the age of 65 deal with hearing loss while half of all people over 75 deal with hearing loss. When you can’t hear people around you, people often choose to withdraw from social situations. They may also be less aware of the world around them, unable to react to warning sounds that keep you safe. This contributes to a lack of mobility that is a grave danger in the fight against Alzheimer’s. When your brain can’t receive audio information and you choose to self-isolate your brain can actually begin to atrophy and shrink from lack of stimulation. This is incredibly dangerous for maintaining a healthy mind.
Research into Hearing Loss and Dementia
Dr. Frank Lin, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, discovered that the cognitive abilities of surveyed participants were shown to be compromised by any degree of hearing loss. The more severe the hearing loss the higher the risk becomes of developing dementia. Dr. Lin and cohorts discovered that seniors with mild hearing loss had twice the risk of dementia, while those with moderate hearing loss had three times the risk, and those with severe hearing loss had an increased risk of developing dementia by five times.
Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss
While there is no way to reverse hearing loss, the condition can be treated rather effectively with hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the sounds around you and send them directly to your ears so you can hear those sounds again. If you suspect that you are dealing with hearing loss don’t ignore the condition another day. Make an appointment with us. We help you hear clear again and make sure you can stay sharp and engaged with life for years to come!