Consistent hearing aid use is associated with lower fall prevalence and risk in older adults with hearing loss

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2023 Oct;71(10):3163-3171. doi: 10.1111/jgs.18461. Epub 2023 Jun 14.


Background: Falls and their sequelae cost more than $50 billion every year. Older adults with hearing loss are at 2.4 times greater risk of falls than their normal hearing peers. Current research is inconclusive about whether hearing aids can offset this increased fall risk, and no previous studies considered if outcomes differed based on the consistency of hearing aid use.

Methods: Individuals 60 years and older with bilateral hearing loss completed a survey consisting of the Fall Risk Questionnaire (FRQ) and questions about hearing loss history, hearing aid use, and other common fall risk factors. In this cross-sectional study, fall prevalence, as well as fall risk (based on FRQ score), was compared between hearing aid users and non-users. A separate group of consistent hearing-aid users (at least 4 h daily use for more than 1 year) was also compared with inconsistent/non-users.

Results: Responses from 299 surveys were analyzed. Bivariate analysis found 50% reduced odds of experiencing a fall for hearing aid users compared with non-users (OR = 0.50 [95% CI: 0.29-0.85], p = 0.01). After adjusting for age, sex, hearing loss severity, and medication usage, those who reported any hearing aid use still had lower odds of falls (OR = 0.48 [95% CI: 0.26-0.90], p = 0.02) and lower odds of being at risk for falls (OR = 0.36 [95% CI: 0.19-0.66] p < 0.001) than non-users. Results for consistent hearing aid users demonstrate an even stronger association of lowered odds of falling (OR = 0.35 [95% CI: 0.19-0.67], p < 0.001) and lower odds of being at risk for falls (OR = 0.32 [95% CI: 0.12-0.59], p < 0.001), suggesting a potential dose-response relationship.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that use of hearing aids-especially consistent hearing aid use-is associated with lower odds of experiencing a fall or being classified as at risk for falls in older individuals with hearing loss.

Keywords: falls; hearing aids; hearing impairment; hearing loss; older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Deafness*
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Hearing Loss* / complications
  • Hearing Loss* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence