Over five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, so you probably know at least one person with Alzheimer’s, maybe even someone close to you. November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, a time to learn more about this disease, how it could affect us or our loved ones in the future, and what we can do to fight Alzheimer’s Disease.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a neurological disease that causes lesions in the brain, leading to irreparable brain damage, severe memory loss, and disruptions in normal functioning. Many people aren’t diagnosed with Alzheimer’s right away, but live with the disease for 8 to 10 years, experiencing massive cognitive decline. A number of factors are linked to Alzheimer’s, and can increase your risks of developing the disease. These include things like age, genetics, high blood pressure, and social isolation.
Memory loss is one of the major symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and the most distressing. Maybe forgetting to buy milk can be chalked up to the effects of aging, but forgetting what your daughter looks like is a much more serious problem. Before you know it, memories of entire months and years of your life may be lost. As Alzheimer’s progresses, it often becomes harder to perform the tasks of daily life, like getting dressed or eating. Those with Alzheimer’s Disease also have difficulty communicating, and are often confused or disoriented.
Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s
Another risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s Disease is hearing loss, and a study out of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that the more severe your hearing loss, and the longer you avoid seeking treatment, the greater your chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s. In fact, people with hearing loss are 1.4 to 1.6 times more likely to develop dementia than those with no hearing loss!
How can living with untreated hearing loss play a role in dementia or Alzheimer’s? If you’ve ever avoided meeting your friends for dinner because you’re embarrassed when you can’t hear them over the background noise, then you already know the answer. Struggling to hear often leads people to the wrong solution, like shutting yourself up at home and isolating yourself from loved ones. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, you’ll face a lower quality of life, risk anxiety or depression, experience more rapid cognitive decline, and increase your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s.
Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s
While living with Alzheimer’s is an endless struggle, being a caregiver for someone facing an incurable disease is no walk in the park. If you have a parent or spouse with Alzheimer’s, you know first-hand how many difficult decisions you’ve had to make, from placing your loved one in a nursing home to dealing with both physical and mental health concerns. You’ve tried to help your loved one find the best ways to cope, and wished for some way to slow the progress of this disease.
Fighting Alzheimer’s Disease
Believe it or not, a simple pair of hearing aids might be the best way to fight Alzheimer’s Disease. Treating hearing loss combats social isolation, improves quality of life, and lets you get back to participating in cognitively stimulating activities like dinner with the family. All those things you avoided doing when you couldn’t hear, like meeting friends for a drink or enjoying a movie at the cinema, activate your brain and provide a mental work-out. Not only that, but when you get a hearing device, areas of your brain that haven’t been active in a while get used again, and rather than cognitive decline, you’ll be using more of your brain than ever. With hearing aids you’ll exercise more parts of your brain, and fight Alzheimer’s Disease.
Unfortunately, this memory-robbing disease affects almost half of all American families. If you believe you or a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss, schedule a hearing test with us at Greentree Audiology.
We recommend annual hearing exams for anyone over the age of 55, since early treatment is the key to having an active mind, and preventing Alzheimer’s Disease. Visit us today at Greentree Audiology, a top-rated hearing aid provider in St. Louis,to learn more about Alzheimer’s and to find the hearing device that’s right for you.