Saturday, April 30
01:30 pm – 03:00 pm

Session 41

Nicole Marrone, PhD, CCC-A; Suzanne Moseley, MA; James Shehorn, BS; Elizabeth Glisky, PhD
Level of Instruction: Intermediate   –   Joshua Tree I

In this seminar, we will adopt a healthy aging approach to understanding the cognitive and psychosocial consequences of hearing loss with implications for clinical practice in audiology, speech-language pathology, and psychology. There is an increasing public health interest in the connections between acquired hearing loss and health in older adulthood. Older adults with and without hearing loss are at risk for experiencing speech communication difficulties. Declines in cognition, such as with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, can also negatively impact receptive and expressive communication. These communication challenges are often under-diagnosed and under-managed, which may negatively impact quality of life and health. Collaborative research efforts are beginning to illuminate the associations between hearing loss and various health outcomes including cognition, but a comprehensive model is still lacking.  Although cognitive impairment may contribute to communication problems, it is also likely that hearing loss itself contributes to problems in cognition, via increased cognitive load, changes to brain structure and function, and/or social disengagement. A major question is whether hearing loss is a modifiable risk factor for adverse cognitive and health outcomes. We will review existing and emerging evidence on how hearing loss and cognition are interrelated and consider the implications within the context of illustrative cases. Among the issues to be addressed are common clinical challenges, such as navigating differential diagnosis in a population in which both hearing loss and cognitive impairment are prevalent. Interventions and strategies to support communication, cognition, and psychosocial health throughout older adulthood will be discussed.

Learner Outcomes:  At the completion of this presentation, participants will be able to discuss the evidence on the links between hearing loss, cognition, and healthy aging, identify the impact of hearing ability on common tests of cognitive ability and explain how speech language pathologists and audiologists can provide support to older adults with hearing loss and their families.