Hearing loss linked to an increased risk of falls

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Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging discovered that hearing loss increases the risk of falls for older people, by a significant amount.

The research found that the risk of having a fall is even higher for people with more severe hearing loss. In fact, the risks increases 140 percent for every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss.

There could many reasons that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of falls.

One reason might be that people with hearing loss have less environmental awareness. This means they don’t notice things happening near to them, such as people, pets, or other things.

Many researchers also suggest that people with hearing loss need to use more of their mental resources to hear and interpret speech and other sounds, so they have less mental energy left for other tasks such as balancing.

The study: “Hearing Loss and Falls Among Older Adults in the United States” is headed by Dr Frank Lin from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Luiggi Ferrucci from National Institute of Aging.

"Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding," Dr Lin says. "If hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, there may be fewer cognitive resources to help with maintaining balance and gait."

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New research links hearing loss to an increased risk of falls