September is World Alzheimer’s Month, a campaign dedicated to elevating the awareness of the public of its growing impact on our aging population. The goal is to engage the public by promoting information and education of the syndrome that degenerates our ability to use language, formulate thoughts and perform daily tasks.
Alzheimer’s is not the inevitable outcome of aging and dementia but it does currently afflict 50 million people worldwide. It also claims approximately 10 million a year and is reportedly on the rise.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
As we age, we know that our bodies and minds change. How we deal with these changes and best prepare for so many unknowns can be overwhelming. The most comprehensive wellness program for us incorporates not just diet and exercise but the health of our cognitive functions. There are some broad symptoms to watch for in the case of Alzheimer’s as well as the stages when they usually are exhibited.
Common symptoms include:
- losing track of the time
- becoming lost in familiar places.
- becoming forgetful of recent events and people’s names
- becoming lost at home
- having increasing difficulty with communication
Late-stage: the late stage of dementia is one of near-total dependence and inactivity.
Memory disturbances are serious and the physical signs and symptoms become more obvious. Symptoms include:
- becoming unaware of the time and place
- having difficulty recognizing relatives and friends
- having an increasing need for assisted self-care.
Aging is not equivocal to getting dementia and dementia does not necessarily manifest as Alzheimer’s, but what we do know is that a comprehensive and preventative approach to our health is necessary. As stated by the Mayo Clinic, “More research is needed to confirm specific Alzheimer’s prevention strategies. Here are some steps that promote good overall health.
- Avoid smoking.
- Control vascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Eat a balanced diet — such as the Mediterranean diet — that’s rich in vegetables, fruits and lean protein, particularly protein sources containing omega-3 fatty acids.
- Be physically and socially active, including engaging in aerobic exercise.
- Take care of your mental health.
- Use thinking (cognitive) skills, such as memory skills.”
Correlations Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Disorders
As reported by the Lancet Commission on Dementia, Prevention and Care some of the high-risk factors that leave us susceptible are: smoking, obesity, hypertension, social isolation, and hearing loss. Is there a link between cognitive decline and hearing loss? The medical community and research believe that there is. Comprehensive reports from countries such as Taiwan, Germany, and England have confirmed the link through studies conducted by various institutions.
The study conducted in Taiwan used to groups each with over 4,000 participants. One group suffered age-related hearing loss and the other without. The results showed that a higher incidence of dementia occurred with the group with hearing loss by 1.3 times than the group that had normal hearing.
The German study used data from the years 2006 to 2010 involving over 150 thousand people. The increase was 1.2 to 1.4 for those that suffered hearing loss to be diagnosed with dementia.
The authors of the English study stated plainly that “the rationale that correction of hearing loss could help delay the onset of dementia or that hearing loss itself could serve as a risk indicator for cognitive decline”. The English Longitudinal Study of Aging used the information of participants all aged 50 and above with assessed and reported hearing loss. After data analysis, the results showed that dementia occurred over one and a half times when participants suffered from impaired hearing.
The correlation between hearing loss, especially if left untreated is significant. How can we best incorporate our hearing health into sustaining our cognitive health and maintain and strengthen our communicative abilities?
We need and rely on our social construct for a fulfilling life rich with friendships, peers and familial ties as do the functions of our brain to facilitate our cognitive health. Our profound reliance upon our sense of hearing requires monitoring so that early detection of any anomalies can be addressed.
At ALLSound Hearing, we understand the complexities and nurturance of our hearing health. If you or someone close to you have any doubts about your hearing ability we are here to help. An assessment and treatment specific to your individual needs is our goal. Reach out to us and with your first call and appointment, we can facilitate the care and guidance to a better, richer hearing experience for you.