Bringing the topic of hearing loss and cognition into clinical practice

Sonia Cuero, AuD, shares three tips for educating clients about the link between hearing loss and cognition.

Latest scientific findings indicate that the global burden of dementia will increase rapidly over the next 30 years due to the aging world population.1 This will pose a global health challenge, putting significant financial and emotional burdens on families caring for loved ones with cognitive decline.

As hearing care professionals, we are in a unique position to empower our patients with the knowledge that treating hearing loss is important to healthy aging and that the benefits of hearing go well beyond better hearing.

Here are three ways to responsibly bring the topic into your clinical discussions:

1. Share the importance of hearing well for cognitive health

Many patients might already be familiar with the link between hearing and cognition. For those who bring up the topic and are not aware of the link, it is important to inform them that research shows treating hearing loss supports cognitive health.2,3 Most patients appreciate knowing that treating hearing loss at the earliest stage possible may have a positive effect for healthy aging, and for some, it might be a determining factor in choosing to wear hearing aids sooner.

2. When they ask, help them understand there is no causal link

The most popular question I get is if wearing hearing aids will keep them from developing dementia. My response is that there is no causal link. What we know from the research is that untreated hearing loss has been associated with a greater risk, however, having hearing loss does not cause cognitive decline. In fact, the majority of adults with hearing loss will not experience dementia.

3. Offer educational materials on well-being benefits

I recommend handing out consumer educational materials on the importance of hearing health for healthy aging during  initial appointments to raise awareness. From my experience, conversations about the link between hearing health and cognitive health become easier the more we know about the topic and the more we discuss it with our patients and other medical professionals.

As hearing care professionals, we should embrace a patient-centered care approach and understand that we are part of a multidisciplinary team that is an integral part of our patient’s health care..

The ECHHO training program aims to give you knowledge and tools to help you better integrate the cognitive health aspect into your clinical discussions. Learn more about this program on the Phonak website.


  1. Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., Ames, D., Ballard, C., Banerjee, S., . . . Mukadam, N. (2020). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet (London, England), 396(10248), 413-446. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6 2
  2. Lin, F. et al., (2023). Hearing intervention versus health education control to reduce cognitive decline in older adults with hearing loss in the USA(ACHIEVE): a multicentre, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. Advanced online publication.
  3. Sarant, J., et al. (2023, July 16-20). Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Hearing Loss: Outcomes for treated vs untreated groups at 3-year follow-up [Conference presentation]. AAIC 2023 Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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