When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Taking a tumble on your bicycle? That’s normal. Stumbling over your own feet when you’re running outside? Happens every day. It’s not really a worry because, well, kids are kind of limber. They bounce back pretty easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can be. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older individuals tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a more difficult time getting back up. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in people older than 65.
It’s not surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt for tools and devices that can reduce falls. Hearing aids might be just such a device according to research.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
If you want to know how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely in the first place? It looks as though the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the danger of a fall for people?
There’s not exactly an intuitive connection. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to see or move. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated risk of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are a few of those symptoms:
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is extremely significant to your total equilibrium. So you might find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects your inner ear. Because of this, you may fall down more frequently.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have neglected hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness may be substantially affected. Can you become clumsy in this way as a result of hearing loss? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make everyday activities slightly more hazardous. And your risk of stumbling into something and having a fall will be slightly higher.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (not to mention an increased risk of dementia). You are likely to be at home a lot more when you’re socially separated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anybody to help you.
- Exhaustion: When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears are constantly straining, and your brain is always working extra hard. This means your brain is worn out more frequently than not. A weary brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you might wind up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have noticed.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can tell you’re in a large space? Or how you can instantly tell that you’re in a small space when you get into a vehicle. Your ears are actually utilizing something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. When you’re unable to hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as quickly or intuitively. This can result in disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to develop progressing and permanent hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to have a fall. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe repercussions.
How can hearing aids help minimize falls?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the remedy. And new research has confirmed that. One recent study found that using hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.
The link between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this obvious. Partly, that’s because not everybody wears their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because individuals weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
The approach of this study was carried out differently and perhaps more precisely. Individuals who wore their hearing aids now and then were separated from people who wore them all of the time.
So how can you avoid falls by wearing hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more concentrated, and generally more vigilant. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can alert the authorities and family members if a fall happens. This can mean you get help faster (this is crucial for people older than 65).
But the trick here is to be certain you’re wearing your hearing aids frequently and regularly.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to stay close to your loved ones if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help you remain on your feet, literally!
If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us right away.