September is World Alzheimer’s Month

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

In Dementia & Alzheimer's by Susan L Fenrich, BC-HIS*

Susan L Fenrich, BC-HIS*

World Alzheimer’s Day is an international campaign to raise awareness and illuminate all too common hurdles and issues faced by people affected by dementia. It’s an opportunity for people and organizations to demonstrate how we can overcome stigmas surrounded Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and help people live better with this condition. Globally, dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face, with nearly 50 million people living with dementia worldwide. To fight the global challenge of dementia it is imperative to raise understanding, compassion and awareness of this debilitating condition   

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broader term for conditions caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease get a diagnosis after age 65. If it’s diagnosed before then, it’s generally referred to as early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s risk factors

Experts haven’t determined a single cause of Alzheimer’s disease but they have identified certain risk factors, including:

  • Age. Most people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years of age or older.
  • Family history. If you have an immediate family member who has developed the condition, you’re more likely to get it.
  • Genetics. Certain genes have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean that you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease. It simply raises your risk level.

Preventing Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with multiple risk factors. Some, like your age and genetics, are outside your control. However, there are six pillars for a brain-healthy lifestyle that are within your control.

The more you strengthen each of the six pillars in your daily life, the longer—and stronger—your brain will stay working and the more likely you’ll be able to reduce your risk of developing dementia.

  • Regular exercise.
  • Social engagement.
  • Healthy diet
  • Mental stimulation
  • Quality sleep
  • Stress management

Treating hearing loss can lower risk of developing dementia

Multiple studies have found links between hearing loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Using a hearing aid could have a huge influence on healthy brain function. Older adults who get a hearing aid for a newly diagnosed hearing loss have a lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia, depression or anxiety for the first time over the next three years, and a lower risk of suffering fall-related injuries, than those who leave their hearing loss uncorrected, a new study finds.

Yet only 12% of those who have a formal diagnosis of hearing loss actually get the devices — even when they have insurance coverage for at least part of the cost, the study shows. It also reveals gaps in hearing aid use among people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, geographic locations and genders.

Elham Mahmoudi, MBA, Ph.D., the U-M Department of Family Medicine health economist who led the study, says “We already know that people with hearing loss have more adverse health events, and more co-existing conditions, but this study allows us to see the effects of an intervention and look for associations between hearing aids and health outcomes,” she says. “Though hearing aids can’t be said to prevent these conditions, a delay in the onset of dementia, depression and anxiety, and the risk of serious falls, could be significant both for the patient and for the costs to the Medicare system.”

Over 6 years, cognitive abilities (like memory and concentration) of people with hearing loss declined 30 – 40% faster than in people with normal hearing. Hearing loss is also linked to increased stress, depression, bad moods, and increased hospitalization and fall risks.  That means untreated hearing loss is a much bigger problem than one may think.

Welsch Hearing Aid Company

Acknowledge World Alzheimer’s Month with us at Welsch Hearing Aid Company this September.  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 and start supporting your cognitive health with hearing treatment.