November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

In Family and Relationships, Health, Mental Health by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

How much do you know about Alzheimer’s Disease? If you don’t know a lot about this brain disease, then November is the time to learn more. November has been designated National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and if you want to discover more about this disease, or find resources for yourself or a loved one, this is the perfect time. Want to learn how to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease? Treating your hearing loss is actually the first step in keeping your brain active, and fighting against Alzheimer’s.

Defining Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most common forms of dementia, and is a degenerative brain disease, meaning it gets worse over time. Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and researchers continue to study the brain to try to find ways to treat the disease or slow its progress. Alzheimer’s is more common than you might realize, and rates of the disease continue to rise. Currently, it’s estimated that 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and this disease is one of the leading causes of death among older adults, along with heart disease and cancer.

Alzheimer’s Disease is an unhealthy growth of protein cells in the brain, called plaques and tangles, that interferes with brain function. These cells block neural pathways in the brain, inhibiting communication between different parts of the brain, and destroying brain cells. As the disease progresses, plaques and tangles become even more dense, and affect many areas of the brain, making normal function impossible.

The Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease starts slow, and you might not notice the signs at first. It may start with simple forgetfulness, and you might miss an appointment, or forget to pick up the mail. However, you’ll soon start to notice problems in memory, as well as other higher brain functions like concentration, problem solving, or being able to follow a recipe you’ve made many times before. You’ll also have problems with language, and you may have a harder time finding the right word.

As time passes, Alzheimer’s affects more areas of the brain, and you start to forget important things, get lost driving home, or can’t remember recent events. In some cases, even the tasks of daily life become impossible, and you’ll need help getting dressed, eating, or even sitting up or walking.

Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Disease

You might not immediately link hearing loss and Alzheimer’s Disease, but hearing loss plays a big factor in developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. With hearing loss, certain neural pathways in the brain are weakened, since signals from the ear aren’t being sent to the brain. Hearing loss has been shown to cause rapid cognitive decline, and this increases your chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Hearing Loss and Social Isolation

One of the way hearing loss affects your brain is through social isolation. When you’re not able to communicate effectively, you start to withdraw from your friend group. You might be able to follow conversations in the quiet of your own living room, but you’ve stopped going to social events, since you’re embarrassed that you can’t hear what’s been said, and have to ask people to repeat themselves.

This social isolation leads to reduced brain activity, since you don’t go out as much as you used to, and don’t interact with people in the same way. Your brain isn’t challenged, and you experience more rapid cognitive decline. Those with hearing loss are much more likely to face depression, feel lonely, and have reduced quality of life.

Treating Hearing Loss

The best thing you can for your brain health is to treat your hearing loss. Not only will you be able to communicate easily, you’ll have a more vibrant social life, go out more, and exercise your brain. You’ll be able to start a new hobby, keep up with your grandchildren, and enjoy meeting your friends. All these things will keep your brain healthy, build new neural pathways, and reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

HearCare in Rhode Island

If you want to learn what a hearing device can do for you, visit us today at HearCare to explore your options. We work with the world’s top hearing aid manufactures to bring you the best in hearing technology to match your unique hearing needs and lifestyle.