September- World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
September is an annual reminder of the prevalence and devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia in our country. Our population is aging, and dementia cases are rising. In fact, by 2050 1 in every 30 Americans will be living with dementia. This is alarming! There are many risk factors for dementia (such as low education, high blood pressure, and smoking), but scientists at Johns Hopkins have concluded that hearing loss accounts for the greatest number of potentially preventable cases of dementia.
Specifically, they found that people with mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss, respectively, had a 2x, 3x, and 5x greater risk of being diagnosed with dementia over time compared to people without hearing loss. This is very concerning, because hearing loss is treatable and ta completely avoidable risk factor!
Why is hearing loss linked to dementia? Hearing loss greatly effects our brain and our communication.
As hearing loss damages the signal reaching the brain, it forces the brain to work on overdrive to “fill in the blanks” of everyday conversation. The stress on the brain impacts its finite resources and may lead to faster aging of the brain or even limit optimal thinking and memory abilities. Brain fatigue from communication with hearing loss can result in decreased social activity and social isolation, which decreases cognitive activity.
The solution: monitor your hearing and complete a baseline hearing exam- sooner than later. Having regular hearing exams will ensure that you are informed and able to make decisions regarding your hearing ability in a timely manner. Catching hearing loss before it has progressed is the best chance of effective treatment and avoiding any hearing loss related cognitive decline.
Our goal at Now Hear ThisⓇ is to empower our patients to understand their hearing loss and take action for their hearing and health needs. Please consider scheduling a baseline hearing evaluation if you are over 50 years of age, so that intervention and education on these factors can be done before dementia makes it too difficult to adapt to hearing aid use.
Lin FR, Metter EJ, O’Brien RJ, Resnick SM, Zonderman AB, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Arch Neurol. 2011 Feb;68(2):214-20. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2010.362. PMID: 21320988; PMCID: PMC3277836