Why You Should Schedule a Hearing Test for World Alzheimer's Month

Why You Should Schedule a Hearing Test for World Alzheimer’s Month

Have you ever wondered about Alzheimer’s Disease? Perhaps it is affecting someone close to you and you’ve had so many questions about what was happening? Well September is a great time to have your questions answered. This and every September is is World Alzheimer’s Month, a global campaign led by Alzheimer’s Disease International to raise awareness around this devastating condition. World Alzheimer’s Disease focuses on helping people understand what they can do to address and even prevent this devastating disease.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is by far the most common type of dementia, a grouping of neurodegenerative conditions classified by the loss of two or more cognitive functions. It was first identified in 1906 by French physician Alois Alzheimer’s who observed excessive buildup of amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles on the brains of subjects who had displayed abnormal behaviors previous to death. Symptoms often start as small as moments of forgetfulness which progress over time. Eventually it can affect mood, a person’s ability to complete tasks they have long championed and even affect an individual’s ability to remember people they’ve known for years. This can be just as devastating for loved ones as it is for the person affected as they not only feel as though they are slowly losing the person they love, but often must shoulder the burden of providing 24/7 care. This makes the paid and unpaid estimated world cost of Alzheimer’s estimated at around 1.3 trillion annually!

Addressing Alzheimer’s

Currently, there are no cures for Alzheimer’s so there is extensive research focused on ways to prevent or delay its development. There are several risk factors which often center on brain health, such as eating a brain healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and avoiding processed foods and sugars. It’s also been found that staying active, quitting smoking and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can also have an important impact. Other practices focus on keeping your brain active with classes, hobbies, and regular socialization. However, one way that has been identified is by treating hearing loss which impacts 48 million people in the U.S. is hearing loss.  

Link Between Alzheimer’s & Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects your ability to connect to others and this inherently affects people’s ability to stay social. While we collect sound in our ears the act of listening occurs more in the auditory cortex of the brain. As damage to the inner ear continues, it affects the brains’ ability to receive certain sounds, leaving constant gaps in words and sentences. This makes socialization exhausting and often people choose to avoid social interaction, rather than facing the stress of poor communication.

Cognitive overload

Straining to hear not only puts stress on the ears but the brain as well.  Our brains are forced to work overtime to hear. Aside from the social impact it’s believed that this stress and strain on the brain can contribute to a raised risk of dementia.

Brain inactivity

Our brain is like a muscle in that the more we use it the faster, sharper and stronger it becomes. Hearing loss inhibits certain sounds from reaching the brain completely. This in effect is a sensory deprivation of sound. Over years of no use, brain cells devoted to hearing these sound start to wither and can contribute to brain atrophy.

Addressing Hearing Loss

Like Alzheimer’s there is no cure for hearing loss but there are ways to prevent it. Studies show that by using hearing aids to amplify sound, they can reduce the risk of Alzhiemer’s and other forms of dementia significantly. For instance, one a major study published in 2019 in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, researchers were able to identiy that  compared to people without hearing loss, cognitive decline was: 

  • 30% higher among people with mild hearing loss 
  • 42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss 
  • 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss 

However, with the use of hearing aids worn regularly from the time you wake up till you go to sleep (only to be removed when bathing) it’s possible to reduce the risk significantly.

Addressing Hearing Loss

Nearly 1 in 8 people have some degree of hearing loss, making it a pervasive health issue and the third most common chronic medical condition that older adults experience. This September, celebrate World Alzheimer’s Month by testing your hearing and take your stand against Alzheimer’s Disease now!