September is recognized internationally as World Alzheimer’s month. As part of the campaign to raise awareness of the disease, it is also a good time to talk about hearing loss. As recent studies have indicated, both conditions are strongly related and hearing loss treatment can significantly impact the healthy functioning of the brain.
Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise, with a predicted increase of nearly 14 million instances of Alzheimer’s in the U.S. by 2050. In order to ensure we can spot the disease early in ourselves and our loved ones, it’s helpful to look at some of the main symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
Memory Loss: When dementia begins to affect memory, those affected will have trouble recalling recently learned information. As the disease progresses, it can impact both short-term and long-term memory.
Confusion: Those with Alzheimer’s disease can easily get confused about dates and times, or feel confused about where they are and what they should be doing. They might find themselves at the grocery store and forgot how they got there. They may even find it difficult to remember what month it is.
Problem Solving and Planning: Difficulty with planning and organization is another sign of Alzheimer’s. Individuals can struggle to make a dish that they have much experience of, or even their own phone number after years of use. They may still be able to complete these tasks, but it might take them twice as long as they expect it to.
Language Problems: Conversations are harder to follow. Sufferers may stop half way through a phrase because they have forgotten what they just said, or they struggle to find the right word.
Losing Things: We all lose our keys sometimes, but if this is happening on a regular basis, this is another sign of Alzheimer’s. It is why people are so confused when they have Alzheimer’s. They may even accuse somebody of stealing their valuables, as they just won’t remember where they put them.
Why untreated hearing loss increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Although research is ongoing on the connection between the two conditions, there are three main theories as to why hearing loss could lead to Alzheimer’s disease:
- Cognitive load
Listening can be a challenging job for someone with hearing loss. As the brain remains busy attempting to decode and maintain speech, there are fewer resources for other tasks like memory and thought, and possibly fewer’ reserves ‘ as a result.
- Brain atrophy
Some studies have suggested that hearing damage could help to speed up atrophy in the sound processing core of the brain. These are brain areas which also support the memory and senses. The decline in these areas have been associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Social isolation
Hearing loss tends to make people less socially active as they are not able to keep up with conversations in public places. As a result, they are at risk of social isolation, and miss out on the brain ‘exercise’ we get when engaged in sustained conversation with others.
Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Sadly, Alzheimer’s Disease cannot be cured. While scientists know some of the causes of Alzheimer’s, they have no way to prevent or stop the effects.
For those who are yet to be diagnosed, you can help your brain to slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s. Scientists and physicians suggest that you keep your brain active because this increases cognitive function and improves emotional wellbeing. One effective way to do both is to treat hearing loss.
How do hearing aids help?
We hear with the brain as well as the ears. By continuing to provide good sound signals for the brain to process, we can continue to keep that part of the brain working as it should.
Hearing aids have also been shown to enhance memory and make socializing and remaining physically active much easier, which are all significant counter-measures for combating Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia.
Hearing Wellness Solutions
If you think you or a loved one has hearing loss, see us for a hearing test. You could be delaying or reducing the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease further down the line. World Alzheimer’s Month couldn’t be a better time to be proactive about your hearing health. Contact us today for an appointment.