Purpose: The aim of this rapid review was to identify and evaluate evidence exploring hearing loss as a risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly population. Methods: A literature search was performed in three databases: CINAHL, Cochrane Central, and PubMed. The PRISMA template was used to record the search and selection process. Search criteria included older adults aged 65 and up with diagnosed or self-reported hearing loss and no previous diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Participants were excluded if they had been diagnosed with dementia or tested for it before the study began. Hearing loss was categorized using the pure tone average (PTA): normal (/= 25-40 dB), and moderate to severe impairment (> 40 dB). Selected research studies were critically appraised using the JBI checklist. A custom data extraction form was used to record inclusion/exclusion criteria, PICO data elements, risk of bias, and level of evidence. Results: Three longitudinal cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. The Joanna Briggs Institute evidence hierarchy was used to rate the level and quality of the studies. Results of the rapid review indicate the quality of studies a high or moderately high. A summary of the results for each study is provided. Clinical Implications: This review contributes to the growing body of literature suggesting that untreated hearing loss is a risk for cognitive decline. While there are various hypotheses on whether there is a definitive relationship between the two, many of the studies reviewed found that a hearing loss in older adults will result in a poorer change of cognitive ability or cognitive decline. Any patient aged 65 years or more indicating concern about hearing loss should be referred to an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

Author Bio(s)

Natalie Large, BA is a third-year student in the Department of Audiology, College of Health Care Sciences, Nova Southeastern University. She will be doing her 4th-year externship prior to graduation. Her research interests include adult diagnostics, intervention, and rehabilitation within patient-centered care in audiology.

Nannette Nicholson, Ph.D. was a professor in the Department of Audiology, College of Health Care Sciences, Nova Southeastern University. She has recently accepted a position at Norton Sound Health Corporation as the Director of Audiology. Her research interests include counseling based upon the principles of patient and family-centered care, aural rehabilitation, evidence-based practice, and interprofessional education.




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