Pichora-Fuller reports aural rehabilitation (AR) includes amplification (i.e., hearing aids) as well as skill training and more. She reports five reasons to consider cognitive factors in AR (paraphrased below):
- A statement of the type and degree of hearing loss (i.e., an audiogram) does not account for the entirety of communication problems experienced by the individual.
- Sensory declines may exacerbate or masquerade as cognitive declines.
- The ability to use supportive context declines in older adults.
- Cognitive factors have been related to benefit obtained from hearing aids.
- Good hearing health may help preserve good cognitive health.
Pichora-Fuller reports three categories of cognitive processing decrease with age: (1) working memory, (2) speed of processing, and (3) attention. An improved understanding of a patient’s cognitive abilities would enhance the hearing professional’s ability to integrate knowledge of sensory difficulties with the “social problems” the patient reports (difficulty hearing in noise, difficulty with certain voices, and difficulty in reverb). An integrated approach founded on the individual’s sensory and cognitive abilities would likely allow the provision of a more comprehensive and patient-centered AR programs.
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
Pichora-Fuller, KM. (2010) Implications of Cognitive Factors for Rehabilitation. ARC 2010: In With the Old—New Research on Aging and Hearing Health. Audiology Today 22(5):59-60.