A Successful Aging Perspective on the Links between Hearing and Cognition A common goal of health professionals and policy makers is to promote successful aging. Active engagement in communication and social interaction can help to achieve successful aging. However, successful aging can be challenged by hearing loss and by other chronic health conditions, such as cognitive impairment or dementia, that can ... Article
Article  |   November 01, 2014
A Successful Aging Perspective on the Links between Hearing and Cognition
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Margaret Kathleen Pichora-Fuller
    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Financial Disclosure: Margaret Kathleen Pichora-Fuller is a Professor at the University of Toronto.
    Financial Disclosure: Margaret Kathleen Pichora-Fuller is a Professor at the University of Toronto.×
  • Nonfinancial Disclosure: Margaret Kathleen Pichora-Fuller has previously published in the subject area.
    Nonfinancial Disclosure: Margaret Kathleen Pichora-Fuller has previously published in the subject area.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   November 01, 2014
A Successful Aging Perspective on the Links between Hearing and Cognition
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, November 2014, Vol. 18, 53-59. doi:10.1044/hhd18.2.53
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, November 2014, Vol. 18, 53-59. doi:10.1044/hhd18.2.53

A common goal of health professionals and policy makers is to promote successful aging. Active engagement in communication and social interaction can help to achieve successful aging. However, successful aging can be challenged by hearing loss and by other chronic health conditions, such as cognitive impairment or dementia, that can interact with hearing loss to compromise communication and social interaction. Cognitive declines interact with auditory declines in healthy older adults who do not have clinical significant impairments in either domain. Strikingly, mounting evidence suggests that hearing impairment is also associated with dementia and predicts incident dementia. Various mechanisms are hypothesized as possible explanations for the links between hearing loss and dementia. Future research is needed to discover the nature of these mechanisms and to determine if interventions for hearing loss could slow down or stave off dementia. In the meantime, rehabilitative audiologists should consider the present and future cognitive status of older adults with a view to situating audiological interventions and promoting hearing accessibility within the broader context of successful aging. Beyond fitting hearing aids, new approaches to promote good communication and social interaction for successful, active aging could be guided by the principles of selection, optimization, and compensation.

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