Cognitive loss and hearing loss
Did you know…
- There is a clinically significant association between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Individuals with hearing loss demonstrate an accelerated rate of cognitive decline and an increased risk for cognitive impairment1.
- The potential mechanisms behind this relationship between hearing loss and cognitive loss, in particular the increased risk for incident dementia2, remain to be determined. Possible rationales for this association may include increased social isolation, changes to the brain, and/or a common process that is influencing both hearing and cognitive functioning in older individuals.
Below you will find some issues that may be common in your practice, some implications for assessment, and some suggestions for solutions you can implement to ensure that you are providing your patients with the best care possible.
Implications for Cognitive
|As individuals age, they may experience changes in their auditory processing and/or cognitive abilities.||
People with hearing loss may be hesitant to seek help.
|Cognitive testing (e.g. the MMSE, the MoCA) often relies heavily on an individual’s ability to hear and respond to questions and instructions given5.||
|Behavioural symptoms (e.g. repetition, agitation) that are commonly attributed to the individual’s cognitive loss, may be related to and/or exacerbated by hearing loss.||
Joining up: Why people with hearing loss or deafness would benefit from an integrated response to long-term conditions, a report from Action on Hearing Loss and the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre, 2013.
Communicating, tips and advice for communicating from Alzheimer’s Society UK, 2012.
The importance of considering hearing needs in individuals with cognitive impairment, ASC CDRAKE webinar, presented by Kate Dupuis, Clinical Neuropsychologist, and Debbie Ostroff, Registered Audiologist (May 14, 2014). Read the transcript.
1 Gurgel RK et al. “Relationship of hearing loss and dementia: A prospective, population-based study”, Otology & Neurotology, 2014.
2 Lin FR et al. “Hearing loss and incident dementia”, Archives of Neurology, 2011, 68(2), 214-220.
3 Schneider BA et al. “Effects of senescent changes in audition and cognition on spoken language comprehension”, The Aging Auditory System, Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, 2010, Vol. 34, 167-210.
4 Davis A et al. “Acceptability, benefit and costs of early screening for hearing disability: A study of potential screening tests and models”, Health Technology Assessment Journal, 2007, 11(42):1-294.
5 Pichora-Fuller MK et al. “Helping older people with cognitive decline communicate: Hearing aids as part of a broader rehabilitation approach”, Seminars in Hearing, 2013, 34(04): 308-330.
6 Lewis‐Cullinan C, Janken JK, “Effect of cerumen removal on the hearing ability of geriatric patients”, Journal of advanced nursing, 1990, 15 (5), 594-600.
7 Moore A et al. “Cerumen, hearing, and cognition in the elderly”, Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 2002, 3 (3), 136-139.
Last Updated: 11/08/2017