Every September, people around the globe recognize World Alzheimer’s Month, an international campaign to raise awareness worldwide around Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease International is the organization that began World Alzheimer’s Month. They also set aside September 21 as the official World Alzheimer’s Day. September 21 is significant because that’s when Alzheimer’s Disease International hosted their first annual conference in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1994, which is when the organization celebrated their 10th anniversary.
This year, 2019, marks the 8th annual iteration of World Alzheimer’s Month, and so marks the 8th formal attempt to bring together people with dementia, health professionals, family members, researchers, the media and national leaders. In doing so, advocates working to stem the tide of Alzheimer’s and to find a cure for it let governments and policy makers know that dementia is a serious health issue that is work investigating.
As the world’s population grows older, health and human services systems are facing new challenges. Taking just one month out of the year to educate everybody about Alzheimer’s disease brings much-needed awareness and recognition to those people who are working hard every day to ensure people, families, and communities have the resources they need to take care of one another.
One thing that Alzheimer’s Disease International does to create awareness around Alzheimer’s is to produce events to create awareness around the disease, and to support other organizations in doing so. Each year since 2009 they have also released a World Alzheimer Report that provides information and resources to people worldwide.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and it most frequently affects people who are over the age of 65 years old. The National Institute on Aging notes that “number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65 [and] about one-third of all people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer’s disease.” There are, however, growing numbers of people who experience the disease at earlier ages. Early on-set Alzheimer’s affects people as young as 30 years old and, in the United States, early-onset Alzheimer’s may be affecting around 200,000 people who are under the age of 65.
Research on Untreated Hearing Loss & Dementia
Researchers who are investigating the relationships between aging and Alzheimer’s disease are also sometimes investigating the links between the disease and hearing loss. Some studies have found that there are links between untreated hearing loss and Alzheimer’s. A 2011 study conducted at Johns Hopkins tracked nearly 2,000 people around 77 years old for 12 to 18 years, trying to understand the variety of potential relationships there may be between hearing loss and cognitive decline issues. They did not find anything that would allow them to conclusively say that hearing loss is definitely related to, or causes, Alzheimer’s disease, but they did find many interesting and potentially useful connections. The researchers wrote that “People with hearing loss were 24% more likely to have Alzheimer’s.” They continue later in by noting that “the worse the hearing loss was, the more likely the person was to develop dementia.”
It is always important to protect the hearing that you have, whether or not you are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, or other issues of cognitive decline. You can take small measures each day to protect the hearing that you do have. A simple and easy solution is to keep ear plugs on hand that you can put in at loud events such as rallies or music concerts, but also in places like public transportation and the movie theater where noise levels can be dangerously loud. It is important to remember to always cover your ears when the loud sirens of police vehicles, ambulances, and fire trucks pass by. It seems like nearly everyone is wearing headphones these days; they are so ubiquitous that we forget that we have them in—and that the music we are playing is often dangerously loud. When wearing headphones, especially in-ear headphones, turn volume down to 60% and only listen for a maximum of 60 minutes a day.
Safe hearing habits will not necessarily stop the effects of cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease. Maintaining awareness of your hearing health and staying vigilant about the threat of Alzheimer’s are important components of overall well-being.
Posey Hearing Center
Have you noticed changes in your hearing abilities? Posey Hearing Center offers comprehensive hearing health services, from testing to hearing aid fittings. This September, schedule your annual hearing test to monitor your hearing abilities to support your overall health and well-being. Contact us today!