When you’re a youngster, falling is simply a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet when you’re running outside? Also pretty normal. It isn’t really a concern because, well, kids are kind of limber. They don’t typically stay down for long.
The same cannot be said as you get older. The older you get, the more worrisome 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 on the floor in pain because they have a more difficult time getting back up. Because of this, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in people over 65.
That’s why tools and devices that can reduce falls are always being sought after by healthcare professionals. New research appears to indicate that we may have discovered one such device: hearing aids.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: is it possible that hearing loss can raise your risk of falling? It seems as if the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss increase the danger of a fall for people?
That link isn’t really that intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to move or see. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an increased risk of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- High-frequency 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 when you jump into a car and you instantly know you’re in close quarters? That’s because your ears are using high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those assessments when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. This means your brain is tired more frequently than not. An alert brain will notice and steer clear of obstacles, which will reduce the chance of falling.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is very significant to your total equilibrium. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more often.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (not to mention an increased danger of dementia). When you’re socially separated, you may be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping dangers abound, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- You have less situational awareness: You might not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have neglected hearing loss. Your situational awareness may be significantly impacted, in other words. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy like this? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day activities can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And your chance of stumbling into something and falling will be a little higher.
Part of the connection between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. As you age, you’re more likely to develop permanent and progressive hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious consequences.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the solution. And this is being confirmed by new research. One recent study revealed that wearing hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.
In the past, these numbers (and the connection between hearing aids and staying on your feet) were a little bit less clear. In part, that’s because not everyone wears their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because people weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) strategy. People who used their hearing aids frequently were put in a different group than those who wore them intermittently.
So why does using your hearing aids help you avoid falls? They keep you less exhausted, more focused, and generally more alert. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. In addition, many hearing aids include safety features designed to activate in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance quicker (this is essential for individuals older than 65).
Regularly using your hearing aids is the key here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to stay close to your family members if you use hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help you remain on your feet, literally!
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you want to find out more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.