Hearing in Later Life Working Group (HLL WG)

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Hearing in Later Life Working Group (HLL WG)

The primary goal of the Hearing in Later Life Working Group (HLL WG) of the International Society of Audiology (ISA) is to connect and engage professionals in ear and hearing care from across the globe to share, develop, and use evidence about hearing in later life to promote healthy ageing in healthcare practices and in social policy initiatives. To achieve this goal, it is imperative that ear and hearing professionals and aging experts build new collaborations. 

Click here to find out more about this working group.
2024 Webinars will take place on the following Dates: March 28 / April 18 / May 23 / June 13


1st Webinar: October 30, 2023

Hearing care and cognitive ageing: What we have learned from the ACHIEVE study so far

Associate Professor Michelle Arnold / Professor Kathy Pichora-Fuller / Professor Natalie Phillips / Marilyn Reed

Click here to watch the recording

Background to 1st webinar

Over three decades ago, associations between sensory and cognitive aging were identified and hypothesis were proposed about possible explanations for the associations. In the intervening years, considerable evidence has emerged to confirm auditory-cognitive association, although the hypothetical mechanisms that may underpin the associations have not yet been proven. Importantly, in influential papers published in the Lancet (Livingston et al., 2017, 2020), hearing loss has been identified as one of several POTENTIALLY modifiable risk factors for dementia. Some promising evidence has indicated the possible benefits of hearing care for cognitive health; however, limitations in research designs have made it difficult to assess whether hearing care can actually modify risk for cognitive decline or dementia. Evidence based on randomized control trials (RCTs) has been long awaited. On July 18, 2023, the first results of the Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE; registered at ClinicalTrials.gov as NCT03243422) RCT study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International conference in Amsterdam and published in the Lancet (Lin et al. 2023). This important work has provided some answers to important questions about whether or not hearing care can actually modify cognitive health.

Presenters: 1st webinar

Associate Professor Michelle Arnold

Michelle Arnold is currently an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and a director of the Auditory Rehabilitation and Clinical Trials laboratory. Dr. Arnold holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Aging Sciences, with a concentration in health policy and practice, as well as a clinical doctorate degree in audiology. In addition, Dr. Arnold is an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certified audiologist with license to practice in the state of Florida. Her research focuses on hearing health policy and aging, hearing health care access and utilization, and hearing loss and cognition. Dr. Arnold was integral in the study design of the hearing rehabilitation program tested in the ACHIEVE study.
Professor Kathy Pichora-Fuller

Professor Emerita (Psychology, U of T) and Adjunct Professor (Gerontology, SFU). For over three decades, she has translated her research on auditory and cognitive aging to address the rehabilitative needs of adults with age-related hearing and cognitive impairments, with a more recent focus on social engagement and healthy aging, including promoting brain health.
Professor Natalie Phillips

Professor in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University in Montreal, holds the Concordia University Research Chair (Tier 1) in Sensory-Cognitive Health in Aging and Dementia. She is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and teaches in the area of human clinical neuropsychology. Dr. Phillips studies the neuropsychology of healthy aging and Alzheimer disease. Dr. Phillips attended the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Amsterdam on July 18th, when Dr. Lin and his colleagues presented the ACHIEVE study and the results we are discussing today.
Marilyn Reed

“Marilyn Reed who is a Practice Advisor for audiology at Baycrest Health Sciences. She obtained her Master’s degree in Audiology from the University of Southampton, England in 1976 and has since worked in Canada in a variety of clinical settings, with a focus on hearing rehabilitation in older adults. She has been with Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto for 25 years as a clinician and clinical researcher in the area of hearing and cognition. Her recent projects include hearing screening in Memory Clinics and evaluating HEARS, a community-based hearing rehabilitation program for older adults in Toronto and New Brunswick.”

References: 1st webinar

Lin, F. R., Pike, J. R., Albert, M. S., Arnold, M., Burgard, S., Chisolm, T., Couper, D., Deal, J. A., Goman, A. M., Glynn, N. W., Gmelin, T., Gravens-Mueller, L., Hayden, K. M., Huang, A. R., Knopman, D., Mitchell, C. M., Mosley, T., Pankow, J. S., Reed, N. S., … Coresh, J. (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 (British Edition). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01406-X

Livingston, G., Sommerlad, A., Orgeta, V., Costafreda, S. G., Huntley, J., Ames, D. et al. (2017). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care. The Lancet, 390(10113), 2673-2734. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31363-6

Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., Ames, D., Ballard, C., Banerjee, S. et al. (2020). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet, 396(10248), 413-446. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30367-6

2nd Webinar - Thursday November 16, 2023

Hearing as a key capacity in integrated care for older people: New frontiers for audiology in inter-professional education to support working in primary care teams.

Dr Kelly Tremblay & Associate Professor Sheila Moodie. Moderated by Professor Kathy Pichora-Fuller

Click here to watch the recording

Background to 2nd webinar

There is increasing awareness that hearing loss in older adults may be associated with increased risks for physical (e.g., falls, mobility), psychological (e.g., depression, dementia), and social (e.g., loneliness, isolation) health issues. Furthermore, with increasing age, it is increasingly likely that older adults will experience multiple health issues, including sensory (e.g., hearing, vision), motor (e.g., mobility, falls), vitality (e.g., malnutrition, metabolic disorders, frailty) and psychological (cognitive and/or mental) health issues (e.g., Gaussens et al., 2023). The WHO (2019) published a report advocating for integrated care for older people (ICOPE). The report identified six key “intrinsic capacities”: hearing, vision, cognition, mental health, mobility and nutrition. It emphasizes that rehabilitation addressing these health capacities in an integrated fashion should be provided to support older adults in optimizing functioning in everyday life. Traditionally, ear and hearing care professionals have worked in relative isolation from other healthcare professionals. There is an imperative for us to stop thinking and working in silos and to begin to learn how hearing combines with other factors and to work in new types of inter-professional primary care teams. The shift to a team-based approach to primary care will call for the development of new curriculum and implementation science research to design and evaluate new practices. Globally, the International Society of Audiology is participating in the Primary Care Working Group of the WHO World Rehabilitation Alliance (https://www.who.int/initiatives/world-rehabilitation-alliance) with the aim of shaping these shifts to include ear and hearing care. The webinar will explore how integrated care for older people might be achieved in the context of new inter-professional primary care initiatives. 

Presenters: 2nd webinar

Dr Kelly Tremblay

Dr. Kelly Tremblay, PhD FAAA, is an audiologist and neuroscientist who specializes in healthy aging. As a recently retired Professor, her research focussed on understanding the time course of aging and how to capitalize on the brain's plasticity for the purpose of informing communication rehabilitation. The application of this knowledge led to her co-authoring the new World Health Organization (WHO's) guidelines on community-level interventions in integrated care (ICOPE) and contributing to the World Report on Ageing and Health and the World Report on Hearing. She currently holds multiple appointments, providing instruction to students as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Communication Disorders, at Dalhousie University, NS, Canada and Salus University, Osborne College of Audiology, in Elkins Park, PA. USA.
Associate Professor Sheila Moodie

Sheila Moodie is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. She is also an Associate Member of The National Centre for Audiology. Along with colleagues in the School of Occupational Therapy and School of Physical Therapy at Western University they have developed an interprofessional first year graduate course bringing students in four professions (Audiology, Speech-language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy) together. She is also leading a team to develop curriculum for a Canada-wide project called “Team Primary Care”.

References: 2nd webinar

Gaussens, L., González-Bautista, E., Bonnefoy, M., Briand, M., Tavassoli, N.,De Souto Barreto, P., Rolland, Y., on behalf of the GEGN Group. (2023). Associations between vitality/nutrition and the other domains of intrinsic capacity based on data from the INSPIRE ICOPE-Care Program. Nutrients, 15, 1567. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15071567

WHO (World Health Organization). (2019). Integrated care for older people (‎ICOPE)‎: guidance for person-centred assessment and pathways in primary care. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-FWC-ALC-19.1

3rd Webinar 14 December 2023

Hearing Healthcare and Healthy Aging: 

The Imperative to Build Collaborations

Special Guests: Jane Barratt / Stefan Launer / 

Discussant: Astrid Van Wieringen

Moderator: Kathy Pichora- Fuller

Click here to watch the recording

Background to 3rd webinar

The primary goal of the Hearing in Later Life Working Group (HLL WG) of the International Society of Audiology (ISA) is to connect and engage professionals in ear and hearing care from across the globe to share, develop, and use evidence about hearing in later life to promote healthy ageing in healthcare practices and in social policy initiatives. To achieve this goal, it is imperative that ear and hearing professionals and aging experts build new collaborations. In this webinar, Jane Barrett, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), will provide an overview of the work being undertaken by the IFA with the UN and WHO and the priorities that she has been driving on the agenda for the world’s population ageing in the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing. Stefan Launer, Vice President Audiology and Health Innovation at Sonova AG and Vice-President of the International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology, will provide an overview of an evolving awareness of healthy aging priorities in the context of hearing healthcare. Following these overviews, Astrid Van Wieringen, Vice-President of the International Society of Audiology, will engage Jane and Stefan in a discussion to explore how ISA and its members can build global collaborations to ensure that hearing in later life becomes part of practices and policies to promote healthy aging. All who are interested in this topic are invited to be part of the conversation and to join the HLL WG to explore how to build strong new collaborations.

Presenters: 3rd webinar

Dr Jane Barratt

Dr. Jane Barratt is the Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing (IFA) an international NGO with general consultative status at the United Nations and its agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO). Her leadership drives the agenda for the world’s population ageing within the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing. Among her many current positions Jane is a Member, WHO World Hearing Forum, Vision Academy, Director, Baycrest Health Sciences, Co-Chair, Baycrest Academy, Associate Scientist, Sinai Health System, Member, Co-Chair Vaccine Virtual Days 2024, Member of the Immunisation For All Ages (IFAA) initiative, WFPHA International Council for Adult Immunisation Taskforce, CSO Representative, WHO COVAX Pillar “vaccine strategy,” Member, IA2030 Strategic Priority Life course and Integration Working Group and Member of the European Interdisciplinary Council on Ageing Assembly.    
Stefan Launer, PhD

Vice President Audiology and Health Innovation, Sonova AG
Adjunct Professor University of Queensland, Brisbane Vice-President, International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology

Stefan studied Physics at the University of Würzburg in Germany and conducted a PhD thesis in Hearing Science and Psychoacoustics at the Universities of Göttingen and Oldenburg. He joined Phonak in 1995 as a member of the research team. During his career at Phonak, now Sonova, Stefan managed various teams including Audiological Engineering, Digital Signal Processing & Microelectronics and Acoustic Design. In his current role, he leads the Audiology and Health Innovation program within the Sonova organization. Stefan Launer also holds an Adjunct Professorship in Audiology & Hearing Instrument technology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. He is the Vice-President of the International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology and has been a leader in fostering new practices to connect hearing well to aging well.

Resources: 3rd webinar

International Federation on Ageing: 

           Videos of conversations prepared for the “Shaping the Future of Ageing” IFA conference session on Hearing in Later Life held in Bangkok in June 2023 (Pichora-Fuller & Stuen; Nieman & Swanger; McMahon & Brasher): McMahan and Swanger: Click here to view ; Nieman and Brasher: Click here to view; Pichora-Fuller and Stuen: Click here to view

Click Here to visit the IFA website  

Click here to view Global Cafe videos

Decade of Healthy Aging: Click here to visit the website

Global Report on Ageism: Click here to view report 

Bertram, K., & Pai, M. (2023). Single-issue advocacy in global health: Possibilities and perils. Click here to read the paper.

4th Webinar: 25 January 2024

Synergies between hearing and vision care for older adults

Dr. Olga Overbury / Dr. Sarah Granberg / Dr. Walter Wittich / Dr. Cynthia Stuen

Professor Kathy Pichora-Fuller (moderator)
Click here to watch the recording

Background to 4th webinar

This webinar will explore the synergies between hearing and vision care for older adults. Hearing and vision loss are highly prevalent disabilities in aging and they often co-occur. By the time people are in their 80s, about half will have at least a mild impairment in both sensory modalities. Hearing loss alone and vision loss alone are risk factors for other age-related declines in physical, psychological and social health. Dual sensory loss presents unique challenges to everyday functioning and further increases risks of other age-related declines. People who live with hearing loss use vision to compensate in everyday functioning (e.g., by speechreading). Conversely, people who live with vision loss can compensate by using auditory cues (e.g., for localization and navigation). Hearing aids do not correct hearing to normal and some types of age-related vision loss are not correctable with glasses. Rehabilitation should consider dual sensory abilities and how both senses play a role in optimal functioning achieved through behaviour change, technology use, and environmental modifications. Rehabilitation that takes dual sensory strengths and weaknesses into consideration will support healthy aging and communication accessibility in age-friendly communities. The panel includes experts in audiologic rehabilitation, (low-)vision rehabilitation, dual sensory loss, health professional education, dual sensory and aging research, and health and social policy reform. These experts will suggest how audiologists can include vision in rehabilitation planning and service delivery and how inter-professional teams may be key to implementing person-centered integrated care for older people (ICOPE: see HLL webinar #2 from October 2023 on the WHO ICOPE). The panel will also discuss ideas about the future of health professional education and healthcare practices to foster inter-professional primary care teams and the opportunities to change health and social policies in the Decade of Healthy Aging.

Presenters: 4th webinar

Dr.Olga Overbury

Olga Overbury, Ph.D. has dedicated her career to university teaching, research, and international networking in the area of Visual Impairment & Rehabilitation. She received her doctorate in Experimental Psychology from Concordia University and, subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center of the Veterans Affairs Department in Palo Alto, California. Her research program has included the sensory, perceptual, and psychosocial aspects of visual impairment. She retired in June, 2023, as Professor at the School of Optometry, Université de Montréal, and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at McGill University where she was the founding director of the McGill Low Vision Clinic. Throughout her career she taught undergraduate psychology students, ophthalmology residents, graduate students preparing for careers in vision rehabilitation, as well as Masters and doctoral students investigating visual mechanisms, perceptual strategies, and psychosocial implications involved in vision loss. The main focus of both her teaching and research activities has been aging and vision impairment. She was the President of the International Society for Low Vision Research & Rehabilitation (ISLRR) from 2014 - 2022. She has received a number of awards recognizing her teaching and research, including the Envision Award in Low Vision Research as well as the AER-Division VII Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to Low Vision.

Dr.Sarah Granberg

Sarah Granberg, PhD, and Reg. Audiologist, holds a position as a senior lecturer and researcher at Örebro University and at the Audiological Research Center, University Hospital in Örebro, Sweden. She obtained her PhD training in the Swedish Institute for Disability Research (Örebro University). Her research concerns hearing loss in the working life, health and quality of life, audiological rehabilitation of adults with severe hearing loss, dual-sensory loss (DSL), and research within the area of the World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Sarah Granberg’s thesis "Functioning and Disability in adults with hearing loss: The preparatory studies in the ICF Core sets for Hearing loss project" received in 2015 the Arnbrink Award. The award was granted by the Svenska Audiologiska Sällskapet and Gunnar Arnbrinks Stiftelse. Sarah Granberg teaches foremost in the areas of adult audiological rehabilitation, health, ICF, Evidence-based-Practice (EBP), and various research methodologies. She has a special interest in Person-Centred Audiological Rehabilitation (PCAR) and how the Swedish hearing health care can develop into this course. Furthermore, Sarah has a close collaboration with the Swedish Association of Hard of Hearing and frequently holds popular-scientific talks on different matters related to the target groups of her research. In addition to many publications in journals such as the International Journal of Audiology, whe has also given several popular-scientific interviews in both radio and in different magazines.

Dr. Walter Wittich

Walter Wittich, PhD is an Associate Professor at the School of Optometry at the Université de Montréal, in Quebec, Canada. Originally from Germany, Dr. Wittich completed a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Psychology (Concordia University in Montreal) and a PhD in Visual Neuroscience (McGill University in Montreal). He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in audiology under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Gagné at the Centre de recherche of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal. He is the co-leader of the Sensory-Cognitive team of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. His research focuses on the rehabilitation of older adults with combined vision and hearing loss. His research domains include basic sensory science, as well as medical, psychosocial, and rehabilitation approaches to sensory loss. He is the inaugural chair of the Deafblind International Research Network, the 2020 recipient of the Canadian Helen Keller Centre 10th Annual JT Award, is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Optometry, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and is Quebec’s first Certified Low Vision Therapist.

Dr.Cynthia Stuen

Cynthia Stuen, PhD is the Main Representative to the United Nations on behalf of the International Federation on Ageing and she also serves on its Board of Directors. Dr. Stuen received her Bachelor’s Degree from Valparaiso University, her Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago and her doctorate from Columbia University School of Social Work. She is the immediate Past Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing at the UN and active in advocacy for the protection of the human rights of older persons with a special interest in older women. She is active in monitoring of inclusion of older persons in the UN’s Agenda 2030 and support of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing. Her professional career of over 40 years as a gerontological social worker has focused on policy, planning and administration to improve the lives of older persons and recognize the lifelong inequities endured. Serving in various capacities at Lighthouse International during her 24-year tenure, she was Director of its National Center for Vision and Aging developing public and professional education on age-related vision and hearing loss for older persons. Her last position was as Senior Vice President, Chief Professional Affairs Officer that involved advocating for policies to support older sensory impaired persons at the national, state and local level while also maintaining involvement and education in international environments to preserve sight and prevent excess disability. Her numerous publications, presentations and research endeavours cover topics of age-related sensory loss, evidence-based electronic records, access to environments for older adults with impaired vision and contributions older persons make to society. Dr. Stuen is a past Chair of the American Society on Aging. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and the NY Academy of Medicine. Her entire professional career has been in the field of aging.

Resources: 4th webinar

WHO Vision Screening App: https://www.who.int/teams/noncommunicable-diseases/sensory-functions-disability-and-rehabilitation/whoeyes

WHO on Eye care, vision impairment and blindness : https://www.who.int/health-topics/blindness-and-vision-loss#tab=tab_1

WHO World Report on Vision: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241516570

Granberg, S., & Skagerstrand, Å. (2022). Enhancing Person-Centered Audiologic Rehabilitation: Exploring the Use of an Interview Tool Based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health Core Sets for Hearing Loss. Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences, 3, 945464–945464. https://doi.org/10.3389/fresc.2022.945464 

Click here to download the Lighthouse International Color Contrast Guideline

Click here to download the Print Legibility Guideline

Click here to download the Dutch Functional Definition of Deafblindness – English translation

Click here to download and read the article: Wittich, W., Granberg, S., Wahlqvist, M., Pichora-Fuller, M. K., & Mäki-Torkko, E. (2021). Device abandonment in deafblindness: a scoping review of the intersection of functionality and usability through the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health lens. BMJ Open, 11(1), e044873-

Click here to download the slide on How to link hearing care and vision care?  

Useful links  


First report https://wfdb.eu/wfdb-report-2018/

Second report from the World Federation of the Deafblind


Visit Global Alliance for Rights of Older People to sign petition I referenced: www.globalrightsofolderpeople.org

5th Webinar: 29 February 2024

Intersections of Hearing with Mobility, Balance and Falls in Older Adults

Dr. Jennifer Campos / Assistant Professor Kristal Riska / Professor Kathy Pichora-Fuller

Click here to watch the recording 

Background to 5th webinar

This webinar will explore the intersections between auditory aging and mobility, balance and falls in older adults. The auditory and vestibular systems are anatomical neighbours and many disorders affect both systems. Functionally, balance depends on multiple sensory systems, including the visual system as well as the auditory and vestibular systems, as well as cognition. Having one age-related sensory decline increases the likelihood that an older adult will have other age-related sensory declines. Combined sensory declines alter the ability of the individuals to integrate information across the senses and how they may use one sense to compensate for another. Furthermore, sensory losses may each degrade information such that the cognitive processing of information during everyday functioning is challenged. In particular, there may be functional challenges for older adults when they are multi-tasking. Mobility, whether walking or driving, involves multi-tasking and the coordination of multiple senses. Older adults with hearing loss are at increased risk when driving and they are at increased risk for falls. Use of hearing devices may restore cues that are useful for mobility. In addition, the functional needs of those who have age-related auditory declines may be addressed more effectively if rehabilitation considers the how multiple senses and cognition intersect in everyday life. These experts will suggest how audiologists can include considerations of mobility, balance and falls risk in rehabilitation planning and delivery. They will also discuss how hearing is included in inter-professional guidelines for managing these healthcare needs of older adults with implementing person-centered integrated care for older people (ICOPE: see HLL webinar #2 from October 2023 on the WHO ICOPE). Finally, the panel will also touch on ideas about the future of health professional education and healthcare practices to foster inter-professional primary care teams and the opportunities to change health and social policies in the Decade of Healthy Aging.

Presenters: 5th webinar

Dr. Jennifer Campos

Dr. Campos is a Canada Research Chair (II), Associate Director-Academic, and Senior Scientist at KITE-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network. She is also an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto and the national Associate Scientific Director of AGE WELL, Canada's aging and technology network. Her own research focuses on understanding how age-related changes to sensory abilities (e.g., vision, hearing, vestibular) affect safe mobility (walking, driving) and brain health. https://kite-uhn.com/scientist/jennifer-campos

Ass Prof Kristal Riska

Kristal Riska, AuD, PhD is an Assistant Professor and Director of Residency Research in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Riska's research program’s overarching goals are to improve the diagnosis and management of patient’s dizziness, falls, and vestibular disorders. Her current research focuses of understanding the complex relation between hearing loss and falls. Specifically, her work is focused on understanding the potential mediating role of unrecognized vestibular loss, cognitive function, and psychosocial factors play on the association.   https://headnecksurgery.duke.edu/profile/kristal-mills-riska 

Resources: 5th webinar

Montero-Odasso, M., van der Velde, N., Martin, F. C., Petrovic, M., Tan, M. P., Ryg, J., Aguilar-Navarro, S., Alexander, N. B., Becker, C., Blain, H., Bourke, R., Cameron, I. D., Camicioli, R., Clemson, L., Close, J., Delbaere, K., Duan, L., Duque, G., Dyer, S. M., Freiberger, E., … Task Force on Global Guidelines for Falls in Older Adults (2022). World guidelines for falls prevention and management for older adults: a global initiative. Age and ageing, 51(9), afac205. https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afac205
Click here to read and download the full article.

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