Balance impairment and falls are among the most prevalent and morbid conditions affecting older adults. A critical contributor to balance and gait function is the vestibular system; however, there remain substantial knowledge gaps regarding age-related vestibular loss and its contribution to balance impairment and falls in older adults. Given these knowledge gaps, the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders convened a multidisciplinary workshop in April 2019 that brought together experts from a wide array of disciplines, such as vestibular physiology, neuroscience, movement science, rehabilitation, and geriatrics. The goal of the workshop was to identify key knowledge gaps on vestibular function and balance control in older adults and develop a research agenda to make substantial advancements in the field. This article provides a report of the proceedings of this workshop. Three key questions emerged from the workshop, specifically: (i) How does aging impact vestibular function?; (ii) How do we know what is the contribution of age-related vestibular impairment to an older adult’s balance problem?; and more broadly, (iii) Can we develop a nosology of balance impairments in older adults that can guide clinical practice? For each of these key questions, the current knowledge is reviewed, and the critical knowledge gaps and research strategies to address them are discussed. This document outlines an ambitious 5- to 10-year research agenda for increasing knowledge related to vestibular impairment and balance control in older adults, with the ultimate goal of linking this knowledge to more effective treatment.
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