I recently came across a fascinating study by Joseph Sakumura, AuD, and Richard Gans, PhD, that was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, and I’m excited to share more about it with you!
The study dove into the role that cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function play in fall risk management. Concrete evidence was found that cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function are closely related and could potentially mitigate the risk of falls if they are improved.
As I’m sure you’re aware, older adults are at risk of falls that can result in injuries, hospital stays, and even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are responsible for over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.
While these are shocking numbers, the good news is that recent research has shown that there may be a way to reduce the risk of falls among older adults by working to improve their cognitive, vestibular, and auditory functions.
The study involved 599 adults between the ages of 18 and 89. It examined the relationship between cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function and the risk of falls.
The study involved 599 adults between the ages of 18 and 89.
Two particular quotes from this study caught my attention:
“Hearing loss is recognized as the number one modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline. Furthermore, patients with even mild cognitive impairment in domains of; visuo-spatial processing, executive function, memory recall, and reaction times are 14 times more likely to have degraded postural stability and elevated fall risk.”
The second quote comes from another study (Viljanen et al. 2009; Lin & Ferrucci 2012; Tin-Lok Jian, Li, & Agarwal, 2016):
“Risk of falling is 3x higher in patients with hearing loss compared to those with normal hearing.”
To sum it up, while falls are a health concern for older adults, recent research is promising. It suggests that improvements in cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function could play a key role in fall risk management. If these functions are improved, older adults might be able to reduce their risk of falling and improve their quality of life.
As a hearing care professional, I’m thrilled to see studies like this recognizing the importance of caring for your hearing health.
We’re always here to help!