With nearly 50 million people globally living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, just imagine all the people involved in caregiving and support. With the emotional, mental, and physical energy this requires, one month of annual acknowledgement is nowhere near enough to show our gratitude. And yet, a monthly commemoration each year is certainly in order: World Alzheimer’s Month.
If you have someone in your life caring for a friend, family member, loved one, or patient with Alzheimer’s disease or one of the other forms of dementia, take a moment to acknowledge their services. Truly, these essential workers do not receive the gratitude they deserve, and this month is a perfect opportunity to reach out, to say, “I see you,” and to give an expression of gratitude.
Research on Alzheimer’s Disease
Another reason we set aside September as World Alzheimer’s Month is to advocate for better resources and greater funding in dementia research. Those who have devoted their careers to studying these cognitive conditions will not hesitate to admit that much more needs to be done. Even while advances are being made in understanding how dementia works, the variety of conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, and some of the risk factors that are correlated with cognitive decline, we are still far from a cure or a reliable treatment. Some advances have been made toward discovering a way to slow down the process of cognitive decline for someone who has a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Yet, with long-term solutions on the horizon, greater resources, time, facilities, and funding are needed to promote that noble work of scientific investigation.
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
Among the many useful findings that have already come from the Alzheimer’s research community, thinking about risk factors is an important step. As we know, no single cause of Alzheimer’s has been identified. Instead, statistical analysis at the population level has been able to identify characteristics that make groups of people more likely to develop forms of dementia than their counterparts.
For instance, with big data on the many personal characteristics of individuals, you might be able to describe a group of people with very similar demographics in terms of race, gender, age, socioeconomic status, other health conditions, and a whole host of personal qualities.
Within this group, let’s say that some people are smokers and others are not. If those who are smokers have much higher rates of dementia than those who do not smoke, then statisticians can analyze the power of the relationship. This relationship is considered a risk factor. Although it doesn’t mean that a smoker will inevitably develop dementia, it does mean that it is more likely.
Thinking in terms of risk is useful for a number of characteristics but particularly those that are related to behavior. It is good to know that a person with an early-childhood experience might have a higher likelihood of dementia, because social policy can step in and try to reduce that early-childhood experience. Yet, there is little that an adult can do about that risk factor.
On the other hand, habits, behaviors, and lifestyle choices are something that a person can modify in hopes of reducing that risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Treating Hearing Loss
One of the surprising risk factors for dementia is untreated hearing loss, and, of course, that choice to seek treatment is one of those behaviors that is within our control as individuals.
Rather than living with untreated hearing loss, you can make the choice to schedule a hearing test and to discover the nature and gravity of your condition. With information in hand about your experience of hearing loss, our team can come up with a range of treatment options, usually including an array of hearing aids to choose from.
Each set of aids has a different profile of features and options, so we can help you navigate these options to find the right fit for your individual lifestyle. Why not make it your way of celebrating World Alzheimer’s Month to simply schedule a hearing test? By getting a test, you are taking the first step on the path to hearing loss treatment, and that treatment has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of cognitive decline!