Alzheimer's disease: "the biggest thief around"
The most significant distinction between dementia and Alzheimer's is dementia is a part of pretty much each of us as we age, but Alzheimer's is a an actual disease that is a deterioration of the brain.
Craig Wagoner, Operations Specialist for Brookdale Senior Living explained why he feels that Alzheimer's disease is the biggest thief that's ever been around, as it literally steals the memory and personality of the person.
"With dementia we're seeing a slow progression of loss. Whereas, with Alzheimer's we'll see massive loss of memory because that whole pathway has been lost," stated Wagoner.
The most accepted way of measuring Alzheimer's is the seven stages. Important to note, the more stimulation you give the brain, the more active and healthy it stays. He recommends putting stations of events in that person's life. For example, "An office with a typewriter and things that would've been in their office in that era. They'll sit there and type on the typewriter and do everything else. If you put a baby changing station they'll go there and change diapers and play with the babies and do that kind of thing," shared Wagoner.
So, the things that they experienced first in their lives stay with them the longest. There is an important link, they believe that hearing loss goes hand in hand with dementia.
Melissa Carnes Rose, Doctor of Audiology at Nardelli Audiology explained, "There's a lot of studies out of Johns Hopkins that show that when you have hearing loss, even a mild hearing loss, there is a significant cognitive overload and because of that there is so much energy being expelled to just listen and to comprehend what's being said that there's not enough resources leftover to actually store that information into the memory."
The positive takeaway from this is that it's in your control and if you're over 55 years of age, it gives you a reason to get your hearing checked professionally.
"They actually were doing MRI scans of the brain and they could see that if you had hearing loss you were actually losing brain tissue faster, so we also think that can be related to the earlier onset of dementia. Once again, if you have treated hearing loss, hopefully we can slow down all of those processes," shared Doctor Carnes Rose.
I spoke to some of you in the community and Glen Watkins, a resident of Fairmont shared, "We would talk to her and she would have a conversation then at once she would ask you the same question over and over," reflecting on his late mother.
Another person who had a loved one that battled Alzheimer's disease expressed his best treatment and advice is, "You gotta love them," Charles Gibson of Elkins, sincerely shared.
There's hope on the horizon though, they're trying to find medicines that can slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer's and as emphasized, hearing loss and dementia go hand in hand. So, make sure that you treat your hearing loss just like you would any other disease you might have.