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Cognition and Hearing Loss: An Audiologist Takes on the Next Level of Patient Care

By Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D.

Cognition and Hearing LossIf you’re over 50 years old, you may start experiencing some decline in your cognitive health. Cognitive impairment and dementia are a growing concern. It’s a well-known fact that, as we get older, we tend to experience some level of decline in our cognitive ability. For some of us it may be mild, and for others more serious. Recent research has found that we can do something to slow the decline of cognitive performance.

Increasing evidence has linked age-related hearing loss with more rapid progression of cognitive decline and incidental dementia. Recent literature indicates that individuals with hearing loss had a 55% greater risk of developing dementia compared to those with normal hearing, and it increased linearly with the severity of hearing loss. Long-term hearing deprivation can impact cognitive performance by decreasing the quality of communication leading to social isolation and depression and could facilitate the onset of dementia. On the other hand, limited cognitive skills may reduce the cognitive resources available for auditory perception, increasing the effects of hearing loss.

Cognitive health includes such things as your ability to clearly think, learn and remember. Most people don’t realize cognitive health can be managed like other important parts of your health, such as your heart and cholesterol. You may think cognitive health decline is only connected to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But that’s not true. Cognitive health decline can often be related to other factors such as  hearing loss, Cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, poor vision and other medical or lifestyle choices.

Early detection and risk reduction of cognitive decline is quickly becoming top of mind within the healthcare community. Recent research efforts have helped us learn much more about the importance of cognitive health  and its relationship to your overall general health. Monitoring your cognitive performance, making good wellness choices and partnering with your healthcare provider is a winning combination for managing your cognitive health.

Untreated hearing impairment is a proven contributor to cognitive decline.  An audiologist is skilled in evaluating, diagnosing and correcting hearing loss with hearing aids and other amplification and hearing assistance technology. But the audiologist can also be your partner in cognitive screening. New technology has made screening for cognitive health by the Audiologist a new reality and  I have recently added cognitive screening to my practice. I have invested resources and time to understand how to best  serve my patients concerning their cognitive health and the actions to be considered when making corrective hearing recommendations.

The equipment being used is called Cognivue, an FDA-cleared computerized test of cognitive function, that provides a more sensitive and sophisticated evaluation of key cognitive domains. It is easy to use, patient friendly, and reliable. The screening process takes roughly ten  minutes to complete and generates an easy to read report that is reviewed with the patient upon completion.

“Since I have been using this in my office I have been discovering so much more about my patient that goes beyond the audiogram which also assists me with my recommendations for long term hearing care in my office”

My office, Advanced Hearing Solutions is now offering cognitive screening to all patients. For more information, contact Advanced Hearing Solutions at 941-474-8393.

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Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D., owner and audiologist at Advanced Hearing Solutions in Englewood, FL is a licensed professional whose 30 year career has been devoted to helping people of all ages hear and understand more clearly. Dr. Crosby received her BS and MS degrees from FSU and her Doctorate in Audiology from UF. Her credibility as an authority grew during her tenure as the Director of Audiology at the Silverstein Institute in Sarasota, FL from 1991-1998. Today, in addition to managing a successful audiology practice, Dr. Crosby is involved in creating hearing loss awareness through her jewelry and accessory company She has served and is serving on various professional boards and committees and was president of the Florida Academy of Audiology in 2000 and 2010. She has been married to Michael for 28 years and has one daughter.


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