Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month is June, a month sponsored by The Alzheimer’s Association and set aside to raise funds and awareness for the disease and related forms of dementia. Learn more about dementia, how Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month strives to fight it the disease, and meaningful ways you can contribute to the fight against it.
What is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month?
Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia are reaching worldwide epidemic proportions. There are currently 47 million people worldwide living with it or another form of dementia. If no cure is found, that number is expected to grow to 76 million by 2030. In the United States alone, there are 5.7 million people living with it. It’s the 6th leading cause of the death and is the only cause among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.
The color purple has been chosen to help raise awareness as people are encouraged to “Go Purple with a Purpose” throughout the month. The height of the fundraising efforts takes place on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice on June 21, 2019. Saying, “The day with the most light is the day we fight,” individuals, communities, and corporations alike, are encouraged to join together, raise funds and raise awareness on The Longest Day.
New Research Links Alzheimer’s and Hearing Loss
Over the past few years, researchers at Johns Hopkins have done studies looking at how hearing loss may influence cognitive decline. In each case, they met with a number of seniors over several years and tracked which ones developed Alzheimer’s and how quickly the disease progressed. In each study, the people with hearing loss had higher rates of dementia. These studies don’t suggest that hearing loss itself causes dementia, but it does show that there’s a link between the two. The researchers have a few theories on why that might be:
- Change in brain function: The particular part of your brain in charge of hearing and processing auditory information may simply start to work differently when the hearing part of that equation goes away (or becomes strained), causing a change to how your brain is structured, which could be related to the effects of Alzheimer’s.
- Cognitive load: When you can’t hear well, you have to work a lot harder to make sense of what people are saying. Every conversation you participate in requires more mental energy and work. If your everyday conversations are taking up most of the mental energy you have, then there’s less left for you to put toward memory or other cognitive functions.
- Social isolation: We know that social isolation can have some very serious effects on both physical and mental health. When it’s hard to hear, it becomes harder to maintain social connections, which can lead to feeling alienated and experiencing all the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness.
- They share a cause: The researchers behind the study are confident they managed to control this, but concede there is some possibility Alzheimer’s and hearing loss may both be caused by some third health issue that people who experienced both in the study shared.
Though we don’t know if the relationship between Alzheimer’s and hearing loss is due to one of these things or some combination of them, but simply knowing the relationship exists is a step toward being able to do something about it. Many people begin to have trouble hearing in their senior years and manage to live out those years without experiencing dementia. But the link does suggest to us that if we can do something to minimize hearing loss, there’s a decent chance that we can also minimize the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s or the severity of it if someone does get it.
Call Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™ today at 772-286-4327 to schedule a free hearing evaluation with our Board Certified Hearing Aid Specialist, and to learn more about the potential link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s and Dementia.