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In the month of September, there is a worldwide push for the public to be better informed, empowered, and educated about the debilitating condition known as Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, which is a degenerative process that affects our cognitive abilities.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60–70% of cases.” Unfortunately, due to stigma and lack of information on the societal and economic impact of the disease, people are often overwhelmed by its effects on themselves or those close to them. It creates dependency and vulnerability that can pose extreme challenges for an aging population and their families.
This September, our team at Absolute Audio is dedicated to familiarizing ourselves with the knowledge and strategies that can strengthen our abilities to tackle its progressive and degenerative nature – especially since there are strong links between untreated hearing loss and dementia.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
The manifestations of Alzheimer’s are painted with a broad brush so that we begin to detect their common characteristics and from there acquire comprehensive assessments and diagnosis specific to the individual. There are three stages to watch for and the early stage can be very subtle in nature at first.
- Forgetting things easily and often
- Inability to keep track of time
- Inability to recognize familiar places
- Communicative breakdown
- Behavioral and personality changes
- Forgetting names of those close to them
- Inability to care for self effectively
- Loss of cognition e.g. current time and location
Listed above are a few examples of what can and do occur but can be at different levels of intensity. Know that the condition is insidious in nature and that it is slow and progressive. What we do know is that some of the most effective ways to combat the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is an effective overall wellness program and early detection.
According to the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care here are some of the definitive risk factors in the increased risk of dementia:
- Social isolation
- Hearing loss
All of these factors in a person of middle age are found to make them more vulnerable to dementia in general.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Remain vigilant and healthy. Early detection can inhibit many such risks from taking hold early and overtaking our physical, psychological and mental health. The medical community, research, and studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between cognitive function and our hearing health.
Published in 2017, the “Hearing Impairment and Incident Dementia: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing” measured hearing loss amongst those over 50.
Data analysis showed that the development of dementia rose to an incidence increase of 1.6 for those with poor hearing.
Dr. Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. of John Hopkins University School of Medicine states: “Researchers have looked at what affects hearing loss, but few have looked at how hearing loss affects cognitive brain function.” Dr. Lin is the lead researcher of studies conducted on over 600 participants on hearing loss and cognitive decline. Beginning in 1990 and 1994, volunteers were tracked and assessed every 2 years until 2008. The results of the study showed that hearing loss and dementia were related as those with hearing loss from mild to moderate to severe had an increase of dementia developing that ranged from one to two to three-fold respectively. It is the opinion of Dr. Lin that the earlier hearing loss can be addressed the better chances we have of staving off the possible onset of dementia.
How can we be proactive?
Our need to stay connected and socially active serves more than just the detrimental effects of isolation. It serves to keep our cognitive abilities at an optimum level because without doing so, the neural pathways constructed for correct input and translation of sound ceases to work.
Diet, exercise, socialization, monitoring one’s health and medication, the upkeep of our cognitive skills via hearing assessments and the proper diagnosis is crucial. It is imperative to stay engaged with our friends and loved ones and in order to do that we must factor in the health of our hearing. It’s one sure way of staying connected, enjoying and strengthening your most important relationships and being engaged socially.
At Absolute Audio, we understand the complexities of hearing loss and the effects it can have on the sufferer and their family and friends. A comprehensive exam and a treatment plan tailored to your needs is an empowering way to start your journey to a richer, fuller life of hearing. Please do not hesitate to give us a call if you or someone close to you have any questions. We look forward to being a part of your overall wellness now and in the future!