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September is World Alzheimer’s Month

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Terri Ellert, HIS

Terri has been in practice as a Board-Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist for the past 11 years and is a co-founder of the Hearing Centers of Arizona.
Terri Ellert, HIS

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Alzheimer’s disease is ruthless brain condition that impacts areas which control thought, memory, emotion and language. It knows no gender, social or geographic boundaries. Globally, two out of three people believe there is little to no understanding of dementia in their countries. Alzheimer’s and dementia are projected to impact 152 million people world-wide by 2050.

Each year in September, there is an international effort to raise world-wide awareness of Alzheimer’s, including the most common form which is dementia. It is a concern of ours at The Hearing Centers of Arizona, because untreated hearing loss is so closely linked to the early on set of Alzheimer’s and dementia. With all the physical and emotional issues linked to untreated hearing loss – you should make that call today to one of The Hearing Centers of Arizona locations for a free hearing test.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Aging

Untreated hearing loss, is one of several factors that put you at a higher risk for getting Alzheimer’s.  Other factors include rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, smoking and obesity. Each of these issues increases your risk of getting dementia three to six times more than someone who doesn’t have these conditions. While many equate forgetfulness with Alzheimer’s, early symptoms are a little more serious than occasionally forgetting where your keys are. They do include memory loss, and also difficulty finding the right words or names of items, problems understanding what people are saying, not being able to perform what were previously routine tasks as well as personality and mood changes.
Other early warning signs are: getting lost in familiar places, trouble handling cash and paying bills, repeating the same questions over and over in a very short time, placing items in odd places and confusion over time and events. Personality changes that occur include paranoia and distrust of family members as well as caregivers.

Cognition and Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a fact of life for 48 million Americans and as you get older, the chances of experiencing hearing loss increase. Dr. Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist with Johns Hopkins University, has done several studies involving cognitive decline and hearing loss. They back up the theory that aggressively treating hearing loss can stave off cognitive decline and dementia. This means if you or a loved one is diagnosed with hearing loss, or you think you have hearing loss, you should call The Hearing Centers of Arizona and get an evaluation! Many adults wait between five and seven years before getting treatment and, in addition to missing so many things in the world around you, it also has an impact on brain function.

Alzheimer’s and the Brain

Using your brain keeps functions sharp. Utilizing your brain outside the home for driving, shopping, hiking and – just walking are all great brain exercises. Baking, doing the crossword puzzle, and reading all help keep your brain stay focused. But having to work parts of your brain too hard for some things results in it being not able to do other things. Untreated hearing loss causes your brain to struggle with decoding sounds and pieces of conversations.  It puts what scientists call a “cognitive load” on certain areas of the brain and not others. If you are using too much of your brain for the same thing – other cognitive abilities pay the price.

Brain imaging studies of seniors with untreated hearing loss shows less gray matter in some parts of the brain. The conclusion by those who studied the data was that the brain didn’t change, but certain brain cells that were no longer being used because of lack of stimulation had started to shrink.

Positive results with hearing aids

A French study used subjects 65 to 85 with profound deafness in one ear. Each received an implant to improve the hearing in that ear and after one year – 86% of the test subjects showed significant improvement in cognitive abilities. The same is true of hearing aids. Studies where hearing aid wearers as well as their family members, were surveyed show the overwhelming majority reported improvements in all facets of their lives when they started using hearing aids.

Hearing Centers of Arizona

Better hearing, better physical and mental well-being, better connections to the world around you – call one of the locations of The Hearing Centers of Arizona today and get on the road to being better and staying better.

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