The Vital Link: Auditory Function and Fall Risk in Older Adults

12/14/2023 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

In a groundbreaking study by Joseph Sakumura, AuD and Richard Gans, PhD, recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, vital insights have been uncovered regarding the relationship between auditory function and fall risk among older adults.  

This study resonates deeply with our approach at Audiology and Hearing Aid Associates, emphasizing the significance of comprehensive hearing healthcare.

Understanding the Gravity of Falls in Older Adults

Falls are a major health concern, particularly in the older population. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that falls result in over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths every year in the United States.  

These numbers underscore the urgency of developing effective strategies to manage and reduce fall risks.

The Study’s Findings: A Triad of Functions

The study delved into the relationship between cognitive, vestibular, and auditory functions and their collective impact on fall risk.  

It included 599 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 89, and assessed how these key functions are interlinked with the likelihood of falls. 

Key Insight 1: The Role of Hearing Loss in Cognitive Decline

One of the study’s critical findings is the identification of hearing loss as the top modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline.  

Mild impairments in cognitive aspects like visuo-spatial processing, executive function, memory recall, and reaction times are significantly associated with increased fall risk.  

This highlights the pivotal role of auditory health in maintaining cognitive function and stability. 

Key Insight 2: Increased Fall Risk with Hearing Loss

Building on previous research (Viljanen et al. 2009; Lin & Ferrucci 2012; Tin-Lok Jian, Li, & Agarwal, 2016), the study reveals that individuals with a hearing loss are three times more likely to experience falls compared to those with normal hearing.  

This fact reinforces the importance of auditory health in physical safety and stability. 

Participants ranging in age from 18 to 89

A New Perspective on Fall Prevention 

The study concludes that enhancing cognitive, vestibular, and auditory functions can be a key strategy in fall risk management for older adults.  

This aligns with our philosophy at Audiology and Hearing Aid Associates, where we view advanced hearing evaluations and technology as crucial to our care approach. 

Our Commitment at Audiology and Hearing Aid Associates 

The findings of this study are particularly significant for our practice and our patients. They underscore the importance of regular hearing assessments, highlighting their role in overall well-being and safety, especially for older adults.  

Addressing hearing impairments is not only about improving auditory health but also about enhancing life quality and reducing fall risks. 

If you or a loved one has concerns about how hearing affects balance and the risk of falls, we are here to help.  

At Audiology and Hearing Aid Associates, we offer the highest standard of hearing care, backed by knowledge, technology, and a compassionate approach. 

To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please reach out to us. Let us assist you in taking a step toward better hearing and improved overall health. 

Protect your health and your hearing

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Erika Shakespeare CCC-A

Erika Shakespeare, CCC-A, specializes in pediatric and adult diagnostics and amplification. Working with adults to help manage tinnitus and hearing loss since 2002, she is an expert in both of these areas. Additionally, she is a pediatric audiology mentor and educator for pediatric audiologists across the country and is one of the most respected experts on pediatric audiology.

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