A Dreaded Battle: the worst way to lose yourself

Alzheimer’s does not discriminate by age.  There are studies that show certain conditions, such as hearing loss, can accelerate or lead to the development of Alzheimer’s. However, you will learn that there are precautions that can be taken to help reduce your risk of developing this debilitating condition.

Dementia isn’t a specific disease, rather a clinical term for a natural part of the aging process.  The condition describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. Dementia indicates problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and impaired judgment of language, and the inability to perform some daily activities such as paying bills or becoming lost while driving.  Some symptoms of Dementia are memory loss, deterioration of communication & language, inability to focus and pay attention, impaired reasoning and judgment, and a decline in visual perception.

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Think about if you or someone you know has been personally affected by Dementia or Alzheimer’s. These are horribly debilitating conditions that one can live with for years.  Alzheimer’s and Dementia do not play favorites. It can affect anyone. Here are some examples of American Icons you may know who have been affected by Alzheimer’s and Dementia. President Ronald Reagan died at the age of 93, Perry Como died at the age of 89, Rita Hayworth died at the age of 69 – all due to complications from Alzheimer’s.  Notice the wide range in ages.  Alzheimer’s can affect anyone at any age, but due to a study done by Johns Hopkins, there are findings that suggest we can take certain precautions by managing other aspects of our health that will help us protect ourselves against cognitive decline.

The Alzheimer’s Association states that “In 2015, the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer’s will total an estimated $226 billion. By 2050, it will be roughly 1.1 trillion dollars”. Inside the dementia epidemic states “One in 8 people over age 65 in the United States has Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly 50% over age 85”.  Web MD States “there are currently 48 million cases of dementia diagnosed, and by 2050, it will be well over 100 million. Mayo Clinic states “Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States for those age 65 and older, but the only one in the top ten without a means of prevention, a way to slow its progression, or a cure.Poll: What's holding you back from correcting your hearing loss?

These facts are not intended to scare you; this information is to inform you about the very real possibility that coincides with each of these disorders. Miracle-Ear has made it their mission to educate the community about hearing health, break down barriers and misconceptions about hearing loss, and inform the community of the additional health complications caused by hearing loss, in order to help give you some possible solutions that can safe guard yourself in the long run.

Alzheimer’s disease leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. Over time, the brain shrinks dramatically, affecting nearly all its functions.  In the photo provided you will see an illustration of a healthy brain, a brain with advanced Alzheimer’s, and how the two brains compare in size. 

Now that we’ve established what Dementia is, what contributes to it?

From  a study done by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging, researchers suggest that people with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. If you have a MILD hearing loss you are two times more likely to establish Alzheimer’s or Dementia. While MODERATE hearing loss makes you three times more likely to establish Alzheimer’s or Dementia. A SEVERE hearing loss increases the chances that you will develop Alzheimer’s or Dementia by a staggering FIVE times.

This study conducted by Johns Hopkins linking hearing loss to Dementia and Alzheimer’s lists three theories on how hearing loss may contribute to this condition.

  1. If the brain is constantly coping with degraded sounds, its resources are dedicated to processing those sounds, to the detriment of other processes like memory & thinking.
  2. Hearing impairment may directly contribute to accelerated rates of atrophy in parts of the brain that process sound.
  3. Social Isolation. People who have a hard time hearing often withdraw because it’s so difficult to communicate with others.  Numerous studies have found that a loss of engagement and loneliness are risk factors for cognitive decline.

In short, if you don’t use it, you lose it.  Hearing loss affects the part of the brain that processes speech sound.  If you have hearing loss, then that part of the brain cannot be stimulated properly.  Like other parts of our body, if you don’t use that part of the brain it will begin to deteriorate.

3 tips to battle against Dementia and Alzheimer’s

  1. Get your hearing checked annually. Many people have not had their hearing checked since their school days.  As part of our community outreach, Miracle-Ear will test everyone annually at no charge.  It is important for people to have a baseline and know what their normal hearing level is, test it annually and as soon as you begin to notice a change you can deal with it head on.
  2. Stay active. If you are experiencing hearing loss, the natural response is to want to socially withdraw because it is more comfortable. You may have problems hearing your friends speak with background noise in the restaurant or coffee shop. You may have trouble understanding conversations at family gatherings if there are several conversations going on around you.  The worst thing you can do is withdraw from this activity.  Social activities keep your brain stimulated and your processing sharp.  If you withdraw you are at risk of accelerating cognitive decline.  See your hearing care provider and talk about what solutions are available to help you hear better in those situations.
  3. Protect the hearing you have left. Although you are experiencing hearing loss, it doesn’t mean you are a lost cause. Use hearing protection when you will be exposed to loud sounds for more than 15 minutes.  Everyday sounds that can harm or cause further damage to your hearing are motorcycles, lawnmowers, power equipment and tools, live bands or loud music, loud work environments that power heavy machinery, gunshots, sirens, heavy traffic, etc.  You can protect your hearing by wearing disposable ear plugs, custom molded ear plugs, or sound cancelation ear muffs.

If you are experiencing changes in your hearing, frequently are asking others to repeat themselves, you feel like others are always mumbling, your family or friends comment that you have the TV or radio too loud, or you have not had a hearing exam in the last 12 months, you should consider having a hearing exam today. Contact our Miracle-Ear team for your Free Comprehensive Hearing Exam. Our knowledgeable staff will determine if you are in need of hearing help and will work with you to develop a plan of action.  There’s NO Risk. No Obligation. Guaranteed! Please call Miracle-Ear at (888) 604-3146 or email leads@miracle-earla.com for more information. We’re HEAR to help you Hear a Better Day.