Last month was Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. No, I didn’t forget to tell you about it (my memory is pretty good so far) it is just we had other things to talk about. So, what is all this talk about brain health, concerns over memory issues and cognitive decline have to do with a private practice audiology clinic? Let’s review some of the facts and see what we can learn.
- In 2021, an estimated 6.2 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with dementia, growing to 13.8 million by 2060, barring the development of medical breakthroughs.
- The economic impact is immense, estimated at US $818 Billion globally, accelerating towards 1 trillion dollars and beyond. At an individual level estimated median costs of U.S. based long-term care services in 2022:
- Non-medical home health aide at $28 per hour, which is $1113 per 40-hour week
- Assisted living facilities at $4635 per month or $55, 620 per year
- Semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility at $268 per day or $97,747 per year
- For those older than 60 years, the risk of dementia is closely related to the severity of hearing loss. The risk is greater with a hearing loss of more than 25dB, when verbal communication starts to be impaired…the frequent “what?”, “tell me that again”, “I didn’t understand what you just said”.
Research indicates proactively addressing identifiable risk factors may prevent, delay onset of or reduce the negative impact associated with dementia. For example, it is estimated that a 10% reduction in the prevalence of principle health and lifestyle factors would reduce the worldwide dementia prevalence by more than a million cases.
Did you know research indicates if 9 crucial risk factors were eliminated, new cases and negative impact may be reduced by approximately 35%? These risk factors include Hearing Loss, Smoking, Depression, Lack of Physical Activity, Social Isolation, Hypertension, Diabetes and Obesity. Other indicators are Low Education Level, Excessive Alcohol Intake, Head Injury and Air Pollution. The Lancet research study indicated hearing loss is one of the most important modifiable risk factors!
Do you see the pattern? Now you understand why there is so much talk about cognitive decline and hearing loss and why Hearing Solutions of North Carolina is so concerned with this growing body of research.
We have included Cognitive screening in our office as part of a Functional Hearing Assessment. Cognivue is a computer-based screener that does not rely on verbal instructions as most of the other screeners do.
If you are like me, I want my brain to work well for me as long as possible. So, what can we do? Here are some suggestions: Stay mentally fit; exercising your mind can help your brain perform at its best. Consider BrainHQ or Luminosity app on your phone or tablet. Maintain Connections: being socially active is brain friendly (Covid really put a damper on this…now get out there). Exercise regularly, Eat Healthy, Sleep & Relax (7-9hours of sleep per night), Optimal Vision and work with your physician to manage your medication.
Of course, #1 in our book is to address hearing concerns. When addressed in mid-life we together can reduce the probability of cognitive decline, reduce listening effort by improving hearing ability with hearing aids if needed, reduce depression and social isolation. So, give Diane or Jamie a call at 704-633-0023 to schedule your Functional Hearing Assessment today. Jane, Cheryl and I look forward to seeing you soon.