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Strong Evidence Connects Hearing Loss to Falls Among Seniors

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If you think you’ve heard all the reasons why delaying hearing loss treatment is a bad idea, here’s one you may have missed.

Research says untreated hearing loss is a risk factor in falls among seniors. In fact, it shows that even mild hearing loss nearly triples the risk, and that the risk increases by an additional 140% with every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss

One reason pointed to for the connection is the effort the brain needs to expend in order to process unclear sound; it is possible that, in order to compensate, the brain draws attention away from other functions, such as maintaining balance and gait.

Another reason looked at is the simple fact that poor hearing can prevent people from hearing certain sounds that make them aware of their surroundings; missing those “auditory cues” can lead to tripping and falling.

The good news in all of this research is that people with hearing loss performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on, than when they were turned off.This suggests that using hearing aids may be helpful to older adults with balance issues.

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