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Hearing loss and cognition: a discussion for audiologists and hearing healthcare professionals


Journal of Otolaryngology-ENT Research
Douglas L Beck,1 Sarah Bant,2 Nathan A Clarke3

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Abstract

Among researchers, clinicians and patients, there is widespread and growing interest in the relationship between hearing and cognition. The Cognition in Hearing Special Interest Group (SIG) is part of the British Society of Audiology (BSA) and is uniquely positioned to explore the relationship between hearing loss, amplification and cognitive ability and cognitive decline. The multiplicity of emerging reports concerning hearing loss and cognition is increasing rapidly. In light of this vast growth, there is a risk that clinicians may be left uncertain regarding the nature and extent of the emerging evidence linking hearing and cognition. The trickle-down corollary of such uncertainty can negatively impact patient care. Answering challenging questions and disseminating complex information about the latest evidence-based hearing science are a daily part of any clinician’s role and those in audiology services may be asked “How does my hearing loss affect my chance of getting dementia?” or “can hearing aids help people with dementia?” This discussion is therefore, based on articles and information our committee members selected to represent the status quo. The Cognition in Hearing SIG aims, through this discussion article, to provide clinicians a contemporary understanding of research on this topic. We will discuss evidence concerning hearing loss and cognition and how it relates to people living with hearing loss and cognitive decline or dementia, and we shall pose some challenges and opportunities for future research and clinical practice evidence. Therefore, to address these aims in an accessible manner for clinicians, the Cognition in Hearing SIG shall address the following broad questions: a) What is the relationship between hearing loss and cognition? b) What do we know about hearing loss and cognitive performance? c) Is there a link between hearing loss, cognitive decline, and dementia? d) Can we intervene on the relationship between hearing loss and cognition?

Keywords

audiology, hearing loss, hearing aids, dementia, cognition

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