September is World Alzheimer’s Month

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

September marks the worldwide initiative, World Alzheimer’s Month. Alzheimer’s disease is a particular type of dementia that is affecting an aging population and is creating a need for us to be better educated for its detrimental impact on its sufferers and society as a whole. The World Health Organization (WHO) has dedicated itself to the awareness of Alzheimer’s along with many other health organizations because every year there are 10 million new cases of dementia reported. It also cites that there are currently 50 million cases spanning the globe.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

The cognitive decline that characterizes the progressive and degenerative nature of Alzheimer’s disease can be slight at first. For example, the Mayo Clinic states, “The early signs of the disease may be forgetting recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will develop severe memory impairment and lose the ability to carry out everyday tasks.”

What are some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s that we need to be aware of? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of its initiative for September as World Alzheimer’s Month cites, “In the early stages of the disease, these can include:

  • Getting lost in familiar places.
  • Having trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Repeating questions.
  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks.
  • Displaying poor judgment.
  • Losing things or misplacing them in odd places.
  • Displaying mood and personality changes

Current efforts to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease will depend, in large part, on volunteers who participate in studies. There is an urgent need for adults of all ages and health levels to participate in research.”

The call for participation also applies to those of us that want to engage in breaking down the stigma Alzheimer’s carries and to empower ourselves and those we care about.

Risk factors

The heavy psychological, emotional, physical and financial stress dementia and Alzheimer’s puts upon society as a whole are not to be underestimated. We can alleviate such stress by monitoring the known risks that leave us vulnerable to such debilitating conditions. According to the World Health Organization: “Studies show that people can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, Additional risk factors include depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity.”

Cognitive activity and its connection to hearing loss

It is well researched and confirmed by the medical society that there is a direct link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Though the link is not causal in nature studies have shown that left untreated, hearing loss contributes to the decline of our cognitive abilities.

The National Institute on Aging conducted research in tandem with John Hopkins University that supports the correlation between hearing loss and dementia.

Dr. Lin and his colleagues from the School of Medicine at John Hopkins University amalgamated data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging (BLSA) for research into the effects of hearing loss.

They tracked information on over 600 people in 1990 and 1994, none of whom had dementia, till 2008 and reexamined every 2 years. The results showed that those that developed mild to moderate to extreme hearing loss over the years also exhibited symptoms of dementia respective to the levels of their hearing loss.

Because of dementia, and in particular Alzheimer’s, effects on our communicative abilities, we risk our social and cognitive activities to fall into further disrepair.

As we age our social activities with friends, family and loved ones take on another level of importance. Our cognitive health needs constant and consistent upkeep. When faced with the issue of hearing impairment we reach a barrier that can be overcome.

Early detection of hearing loss offers us a greater number of options and avenues to pursue a healthier and richer life of communication. With a comprehensive hearing assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan we can be better prepared. A hearing assessment is suggested every 3 years for people over the age of 50. Your hearing health professional would be best suited to inform an evaluate changing needs for optimum hearing health.

Beverly Hills Hearing Center

At Beverly Hills Hearing Center, we are dedicated to your overall health and wellness. If you or someone close to you have any questions we look forward to your call. An appointment for your hearing evaluation would make the best first step on your path to a richer hearing experience now and a foundation for the future.