September marks the annual campaign, World Alzheimer’s Month. Here at Audio Advantage Hearing Aid Center, we are hoping to get you involved in the push to elevate awareness of a condition affecting 50 million people worldwide. Each year 10 million new cases are reported. The effects of Alzheimer’s have far-reaching impacts on society, the sufferers, family, and caregivers. The World Health Organization (WHO) states “Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60–70% of cases.”
How can we contribute to awareness and empowerment to a condition in which there is no single known cause? Dementia does not always equate to Alzheimer’s. There are some broad commonalities to both that we can take note of.
Risk genes and deterministic genes will dictate to a degree whether a person develops a disease. Both are found in the genes for Alzheimer’s. Current estimates show that deterministic genes, the genes that cause disease, determine less than 1 percent of Alzheimer’s cases.
If someone in your family has it then the risks increase. Usually, if it is a parent or a sibling and the added possibility of it running on both sides of the family, then susceptibility to the condition does rise.
Aging is not a direct cause of Alzheimer’s. It does, however, affect people mostly in their 60’s. The risks increase every five years after over the median age of 65.
Some other risks that we have more influence over are head injuries, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Studies conducted throughout the world support that there is a definitive connection between hearing loss and dementia. In England, in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, participants self-reported their level of hearing loss in conjunction with dementia, if or when it occurred. Results showed that those with mild hearing loss had a 1.4 higher chance of dementia than those with normal hearing. People with serious hearing impairment had a 1.6 increase in developing dementia.
In Germany, the information provided by the country’s largest health insurance company was compiled using the information of over 150 thousand people spanning the years 2006 to 2010. From the data analysis, the increased risk of dementia went from 1.2 to 1.4 respective to their level of hearing impairment affecting over 14,000 participants.
In Taiwan, a study was conducted using a control group of close to 15,000 participants with hearing loss and another group with regular hearing. The increased risk of developing dementia went up to 1.3 in the group with hearing impairment and those with other afflictions such as hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and obesity saw an increase of up to 3.6-fold.
The overall consensus by medical researchers is that early detection of hearing loss can help mitigate the onset and effects of dementia, when assessment and diagnosis are properly followed and a comprehensive wellness program is incorporated in our daily lives.
Strategies for Reducing Alzheimer’s Risk
As stated by the Alzheimer’s Association: “One promising line of research suggests that strategies for overall healthy aging may help keep the brain healthy and may even reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. These measures include eating a healthy diet, staying socially active, avoiding tobacco and excess alcohol, and exercising both the body and mind.
Socialization is a necessary part of our mental and physical health. We engage our cognitive abilities when we interact with others and is a crucial part of our need as humans and the way we keep our cognition up to par. If hearing loss is ignored or left untreated, we incur irreparable damage and put our cognitive abilities at risk.
The neural pathways that the brain has formed over the years for us to quickly recognise and interpret sound can be easily distorted or even left unused if our hearing is impaired. Over time the lapse of use of these important pathways puts greater pressure on other abilities and creates physical stress and strain
Audio Advantage Hearing Aid Center
To strengthen relationships with our loved ones and continue a fulfilling social life, we should make sure we get an assessment of our hearing once every three to five years.
At Audio Advantage Hearing Aid Center, we encourage you to give us a call should you have any questions or doubts about your hearing health. We understand that it can be overwhelming or intimidating. Your overall wellbeing is our goal and we can start with your first appointment!