Everyone has problems remembering details every now and then, but as we age, this can progress into more than forgetfulness. If ignored this can easily progress into dementia, which is a category of brain diseases affecting at least two cognitive functions, like memory and judgment.
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, affecting 3 million people in the US annually and accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases. Each September is World Alzheimer’s Month, in which awareness is raised to address and raise awareness around Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer In 1906 after identifying changes in the brain tissue of diseased patients with similar mental health issues. He was able to identify a progressive disease, which occurs as brain cell connections degenerate and die, destroying memory and other important memory functions.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetfulness, impaired social skills, compromised reasoning and interference with daily functioning There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, specialists continue to uncover more information each year on different health conditions and actions, which contribute to the likeliness of developing this devastating condition. When we understand what we can do to prevent and treat this condition it can help us be aware of what we can do to combat dementia in all forms.
A New Study on Alzheimer’s Prevention
While the majority of Alzheimer’s patients are 65 or older it is not exclusively a disease that affects the elderly. Currently there are approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 who suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health & Sustainable Development released a study this year building on previous research identifying 12 risk factors leading to dementia that could be avoided by changing behavior. The commission found these factors could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases globally. The 12 modifiable factors include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Because excessive alcohol consumption can damage your brain over time this can put you at a higher risk for dementia.
- Head injury: Research has linked traumatic brain injury with a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia even after years from the original injury.
- Air pollution: While more studies are required there is significant evidence suggesting that tiny polluted particles of air can enter the brain contributing to the development of dementia
- Less Education: Researchers find that education in the first 20 years of life are essential for brain health but become less of a factor after this, illuminating the importance of attending grade school.
- Hypertension: Many studies highlight the connection between high blood pressure in mid-life, its negative effect on brain tissue and a higher risk of developing dementia in later life.
- Smoking: Smoking Tobacco increases the risk of vascular problems, raising the risk of strokes or smaller bleeds in the brain, which are associated risks for dementia.
- Obesity: A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that obesity in late adulthood, (40-60) had a 31% increased risk of dementia, than those who were technically not considered obese.
- Depression: People who suffer from depression have been found to suffer more rapid decline in thinking and memory skills associated with dementia.
- Infrequent social contact: Depression and less social interaction create instances of less brain stimulation, which can aid in the onset of dementia.
- Physical inactivity: Studies have found that when people exercise regularly they are less likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia.
- Diabetes: Diabetes can cause brain damage when blood flow is reduced or blocked in your brain raising the risk of dementia.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
Hearing loss is a major factor in the risk of dementia as many of the risk factors for dementia are similar for hearing loss as well. For instance diabetes, hypertension, smoking and head trauma can also be risk factors for hearing loss.
Consequences of untreated hearing loss often include depression, lack of social interaction and less physical mobility, raising the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you suspect you have an issue with your hearing, contact us to make an appointment to have your hearing checked and treated today. You may not only be protecting your hearing but the memories of your lifetime!