Let World Alzheimer’s Month Inspire You to Schedule a Hearing Test!

Let World Alzheimer's Month Inspire You to Schedule a Hearing Test!

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. Did you know that an effective way to protect brain health and reduce your risk of experiencing Alzheimer’s is treating hearing loss? September is a great time to prioritize your hearing health and schedule an appointment for a hearing test!

About Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that 55 million people live with dementia globally. This is expected to more than double, reaching 139 million people by 2050. Dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of medical conditions that reduce cognitive functions. These include Parkinson’s, vascular, and Lewy Body dementia. The most common type is Alzheimer’s, which accounts for up to 70% of the dementia people experience today. 

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that over 6 million people have Alzheimer’s in the United States. This is also expected to increase exponentially, reaching 12.7 million people by 2050. Alzheimer’s damages nerve cells in the brain which communicate to manage cognitive functions. This impacts essential functions like memory, thinking, completing tasks, communication, learning etc. Alzheimer’s may begin as spotty memory or minor memory loss and progressively become severe memory loss, an inability to perform everyday tasks, difficulty learning new information, communication challenges, mood swings etc. These symptoms can prevent people from living independently and safely, requiring assistance and greater care. 

There are no cures for dementia, and cognitive decline is irreversible. Extensive research focuses on prevention and ways brain health can be supported. Studies show that treating hearing loss is one of the primary ways to  prevent cognitive decline and the development of associated conditions like Alzheimer’s. 

Link Between Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline

Substantial research shows that hearing loss increases the risk of experiencing cognitive decline. A major study that investigates this link was published recently (2019) in the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted this study which included 10,107 people, ages 62 and older. Researchers assessed their cognitive and hearing capacities over 8 years and found that people with hearing loss were significantly more likely to experience cognitive decline. 

Their findings include that compared to participants without hearing loss, cognitive decline among those with impaired hearing was: 

  • 30% higher among people with mild hearing loss 
  • 42% higher among people with moderate hearing loss 
  • 54% higher among people with severe hearing loss 

This data reveals a major link between hearing loss and cognitive decline and also shows that the greater the hearing loss, the greater the risk is. This supports substantial research that identifies hearing loss as a risk factor for cognitive decline. Much research also shows that treating hearing loss can prevent this impact on the brain, supporting cognitive functions and improving overall brain health. 

Treating Hearing Loss Supports Brain Health

Hearing aids are the most common way hearing loss is treated. These savvy electronic devices are built with technology that absorbs and processes speech as well as sound. This not only alleviates symptoms, but it also increases one’s hearing capacity. Hearing aids offer countless benefits including improving communication, relationships, social life, as well as brain health. Studies show that hearing aids actually strengthen cognitive functions and boost brain health: 

  • 2020 Study Published in Science Daily: Evaluating the impact of hearing aids on cognitive health, researchers at the University of Melbourne conducted a study that included nearly 100 participants. They evaluated cognitive capacities of these participants, ages 62-82, before wearing hearing aids and 18 months after. They found that “97% of participants showed either clinically significant improvement or stability in executive function (mental ability to plan, organize information and initiate tasks)”. 
  • 2018 Study Published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society: this study included over 2,000 hearing aid wearers. Researchers evaluated their cognitive health by conducting memory tests every two years for 18 years. Researchers concluded that the use of hearing aids improved scores on memory tests and can be a way to prevent cognitive decline. 

These studies show that hearing aids support brain health, reducing the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s.

World Alzheimer’s Month is a great time to prioritize your hearing health. You can do this by contacting us to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. 

Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS
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