Aging, Cognitive Decline and Hearing Loss: Effects of Auditory Rehabilitation and Training with Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants on Cognitive Function and Depression among Older Adults

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Abstract

A growing interest in cognitive effects associated with speech and hearing processes is spreading throughout the scientific community essentially guided by evidence that central and peripheral hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline. For the present research, 125 participants older than 65 years of age (105 with hearing impairment and 20 with normal hearing) were enrolled, divided into 6 groups according to their degree of hearing loss and assessed to determine the effects of the treatment applied. Patients in our research program routinely undergo an extensive audiological and cognitive evaluation protocol providing results from the Digit Span test, Stroop color-word test, Montreal Cognitive Assessment and Geriatric Depression Scale, before and after rehabilitation. Data analysis was performed for a cross-sectional and longitudinal study of the outcomes for the different treatment groups. Each group demonstrated improvement after auditory rehabilitation or training on short- and long-term memory tasks, level of depression and cognitive status scores. Auditory rehabilitation by cochlear implants or hearing aids is effective also among older adults (median age of 74 years) with different degrees of hearing loss, and enables positive improvements in terms of social isolation, depression and cognitive performance.

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