This month at House of Hearing, we want to draw attention to Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and their campaign to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease. This month sees the 8th World Alzheimer’s Month, a global campaign to raise public knowledge of dementia and combat stigmas surrounding the disease.
This year’s campaign recognizes that speaking about dementia helps to tackle this stigma and look for help. It also calls on governments to do more to reduce the effects of dementia, based on recent recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
What is Dementia?
Dementia is an umbrella term for brain disorders that cause an individual’s memory, memory, language, planning or personality to deteriorate over time. The reason for the focus on Alzheimer’s is because 50% to 60% of all instances of dementia are found to be Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia has a range of symptoms, such as:
- Memory issues
- Trouble planning ahead, thinking or with language
- Difficulty recognising family members and friends
- Mood swings and personality changes
Dementia is one of the most important health and social challenges of the 21st century. It’s estimated that by 2050, there will be over 152 million people living with the condition worldwide.
There are many causes of dementia. In each case, however, an injury or disease process is responsible for the destruction of brain cells. What could be causing this decline? Although there are many possible causes, most recently a connection has been found between cognitive decline and hearing loss.
According to an comprehensive 25-year French study, self-reported hearing loss is linked with rapid cognitive declines in older adults. The research also shows that this cognitive decrease is almost entirely mitigated through the use of hearing aids.
The research found that those with self-reported hearing loss were more likely to experience cognitive decline. But in respondents using hearing aids, the reverse statistical trend was found. Rates of cognitive decline in those who wore hearing aids was same as those who reported no hearing loss.
Why does hearing loss lead to dementia?
Research is currently underway on the correlation between hearing loss and dementia. One potential reason is that, if the brain is working hard to listen to and comprehend conversations, less energy will be left to other cognitive tasks. This accelerates cognitive decline.
The other theory revolves around social contact. The common reaction to not being able to understand other people in noisy places is the slow retreat of the individual from public life.
A lack of human interaction means certain parts of the brain remain underused, leading to a risk of brain atrophy.
Improving hearing ability helps
The French research does not imply that hearing loss affects cognitive degeneration directly, but that a hearing loss may have mental and social impacts that could help create conditions for dementia.
An improvement in the capacity to hear through the use of listening devices or cochlear implants therefore decreases the adverse mental impacts of hearing loss and enhances the capacity to take part in cognitive stimulus, such as social activities. Hearing aids can boost social interactions and increase the ability to participate in conversations. This helps slow cognitive decay.
How can I prevent Dementia?
Studies indicate that individuals wait between three and five years to get hearing loss treated once it is found. The longer you leave it, the more likely it is that your brain will begin to forget how to perceive and process sound. Then those parts of your brain begin to shrink, speeding up cognitive decline.
In order to stand the best chance of preventing Dementia, it’s important to remain as socially connected as possible. In order to do this, you should look after your hearing health and treat hearing loss as soon as you suspect you may have it.
House of Hearing
Early intervention is the best way to slow down cognitive decline. It starts with a regular hearing test with us here at House of Hearing. If your hearing has changed, it’s even more important to get tested as soon as you can. People wait far too long to do something about their hearing loss, and this can have serious implications for your social life and your brain health. Contact us at House of Hearing today for an appointment.