Poor Hearing and Falls are Connected in Seniors

Poor Hearing and Falls are Connected in Seniors

Hearing loss can cause many day-to-day challenges. You may have trouble hearing people around the dinner table or in a busy restaurant. You may worry about not hearing the phone or doorbell.

Hearing loss is more than an inconvenience. Studies show hearing loss may also increase the risk for falls. Each year, one in four people over the age of 65 takes a nasty tumbleleaving site icon Some of these falls lead to serious injury.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine leaving site icon were the first to find that people with “mild” hearing loss are nearly three times more likely to fall than people who hear well. The risk went up as hearing loss increased. These findings didn't change when researchers accounted for other risk factors for falling such as age, gender and race.

It’s not fully clear why hearing loss and falls are linked, but researchers point to three likely reasons:

  • Balance and hearing systems are both located in the ear. One system (hearing) may influence the other (balance).
  • A person with hearing loss has a harder time deciding the source of sounds. That could impact balance.
  • A person with hearing loss must concentrate more to listen. Doing so makes it harder to focus on balance and other functions.

Often, hearing loss leaving site icon isn’t treated. Some people may not know they have treatment options. They may lack access to care. Others may worry about the cost or effectiveness of hearing aids.

If you feel like you no longer hear as well as you once did, talk with your doctor. Ask questions about what you can do. Tell your family and friends. They can help make hearing easier by speaking louder and more clearly. Be aware of background noise that makes hearing more difficult.

You can also use a variety of tools and techniques to hear betterleaving site icon including: 

  • Devices like phone amplifiers and other technology
  • Visual cues to understand what is being said
  • Hearing aids

Addressing your hearing loss may also help improve your balance and keep you from falling.

Here’s some great news for Blue Cross Medicare AdvantageSM members: If you have a Fall Risk Assessment, you may qualify for a $25 gift card through our Rewards program. leaving site icon Visit the Healthy Activity Portal* to learn more.

Sources: Facts About Fallsleaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; Hearing Loss: A Common Problem for Older Adultsleaving site icon Hearing Loss and Older Adultsleaving site icon National Institute on Aging, 2023; Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling, leaving site icon Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2012; Age-Related Hearing Loss, leaving site icon National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 2023
*The Healthy Activity Portal is a website owned and operated by HealthMine, Inc., an independent company that provides digital health and personal clinical engagement tools and services for Blue Cross Medicare AdvantageSM members.
BCBSMT makes no endorsement, representations or warranties regarding third-party vendors and the products and services offered by them.
Registration is required to participate. Visit www.BlueRewardsMT.com leaving site icon to register and see what Healthy Actions earn rewards. Maximum annual rewards of $100 in gift cards. One reward per Healthy Action per year. Healthy Action dates of service must be in the current plan year.  Healthy Actions that earn rewards are subject to change.
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Originally published 10/15/2018; Revised 2021, 2023