New research shows connection between treatment for hearing loss, onset of Alzheimer’s 

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's right now.

There are about 65,000 diagnosed patients in Oklahoma.

Despite billions of dollars funding research for Alzheimer's treatments are modest. There is no cure.

Gail Magley was a speech pathologist who worked with children in schools.

Gail was still working in her early 50s when she started having memory loss.

Gail and her husband of 45 years, Herb Magley sought treatment and an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

But, it took doctors month to properly diagnose early-onset Alzheimer's because Gail was only 54 years old.

"(Her doctor) just said. She's really too young," Herb remembers. "The whole process of getting Gail diagnosed was about a two-year process."

Herb and Gail fought Alzheimer's together for eleven years. Gail was 65 years old when she died.

"It's hopeless. That's what it feels like," said Herb. "I mean. You know what's going to happen."

Four years after his wife's death, Herb spends his time fundraising for the Alzheimer's Association.

At the Oklahoma City chapter, one of the goals is to train doctors to help families with a faster, more accurate diagnosis.

"Only about 50 percent of those with Alzheimer's will get diagnosed," said Alzheimer's Association's Director of Programming Heather Duvall. "Of those diagnosed (with Alzheimer's) only 50 percent of those will be disclosed of that diagnosis."

The Oklahoma City Walk to end Alzheimer's will raise $1 million to fund research for a cure and free support for Alzheimer's caregivers.

According to geriatric specialist Dr. Lee Jennings there are only modest medications to treat some Alzheimer's symptoms.

Researchers are still working to understand what is happening in the Alzheimer's brain.

"Right now we don't have that magic pill," said Dr. Jennings. "One of the most exciting things to come out recently is early treatment of hearing loss. There have been some good studies showing if people seek treatment for hearing loss early they have less cognitive decline as they age."

A new study of more than 2000 older adults shows a connection between hearing loss and dementia.

"They found people who were treated for hearing loss with hearing aids had slower decline in their cognition, suggesting that hearing aids might actually mitigate cognitive impairment as people get older," Dr. Jennings said.

Currently, experts say healthy living is the best defense against Alzheimer's disease.

Exercise, quality sleep, quitting smoking are beneficial for a healthy heart, which also contributes to a healthy brain.

The Oklahoma City walk to end Alzheimer's is October 5th at Bicentennial Park.

Mike and Marla Morgan are once again emceeing the race.

Click here for more information about volunteering or participating in this year's event.

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