When you’re a youngster, falling is simply a part of life. Wiping out on your bike? That’s normal. Getting tripped up while running across the yard. Happens every day. Kids are pretty limber so, no big deal. They don’t typically stay down for very long.
As you get older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more worrisome a fall can be. In part, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older individuals might have a more difficult time standing back up after a tumble, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. As a result, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in people over 65.
That’s why tools and devices that can reduce falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. Hearing aids could be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
In order to determine why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a related question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall to begin with? In some situations, it seems that the answer is a strong yes.
So why does hearing loss increase the danger of a fall for people?
There’s not really an intuitive connection. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to move or see. But this kind of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated danger of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are some of those symptoms:
- Loss of balance: How can hearing loss impact your balance? Well, your inner ear is extremely important to your overall equilibrium. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you may find yourself a bit more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have difficulty keeping your balance. As a result of this, you may fall down more often.
- Depression: Social isolation and maybe even cognitive decline can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. When you’re socially separated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- Exhaustion: When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears are always straining, and your brain is always working extra hard. This means your brain is worn out more often than not. An attentive brain will notice and steer clear of obstacles, which will reduce the chance of having a fall.
- You have less situational awareness: When you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the dog barking beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly impacted. Can hearing loss make you clumsy like this? Well, in a way yes, daily activities can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And that means you may be a little bit more likely to unintentionally stumble into something, and have a tumble.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if your eyes are closed, you can detect that you’re in a large space? Or how you can immediately tell that you’re in a small space when you get into a vehicle. Your ears are actually using something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. When you can no longer hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as quickly or easily. This can cause disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
Age is also a consideration when it comes to hearing loss-associated falls. As you get older, you’re more likely to experience permanent and advancing hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to have a fall. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious consequences.
How can the risk of falling be reduced by using hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy. And this is being validated by new research. Your risk of falling could be reduced by up to 50% based on one study.
The connection between remaining on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this evident. That’s partly because individuals frequently fail to wear their hearing aids. As a consequence, falls among “hearing aid users” were frequently inconclusive. This wasn’t because the hearing aids were malfunctioning, it was because people weren’t wearing them.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. People who wore their hearing aids now and then were separated from people who used them all of the time.
So how can you avoid falls by using hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more concentrated, and generally more vigilant. It doesn’t hurt that you have added situational awareness. In addition, many hearing aids include safety features designed to activate in the case of a fall. This can mean you get help faster (this is essential for people older than 65).
But the key here is to be sure you’re using your hearing aids often and regularly.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to stay close to your family members if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help prevent a fall!
Make an appointment with us today if you want to learn more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.