When you’re a kid, falling is simply a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? Not unusual. Getting tripped up when sprinting across the yard. Also rather typical. It isn’t really a concern because, well, kids are quite limber. They don’t usually stay down for very long.
The same can’t be said as you get older. Falling becomes much more of a concern as you grow older. To some extent, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal slower). Older people tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. Because of this, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in individuals older than 65.
It’s not surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout 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 understand how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall in the first place? It looks as if the answer might be, yes.
So the question is, why would the danger of falling be increased by hearing loss?
There’s not exactly an intuitive association. After all, hearing loss does not directly impact your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are a few symptoms of hearing loss that do have this kind of direct effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in an increased danger of falling. Some of those symptoms include:
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (along with an increased risk of dementia). You are likely to be at home a lot more when you’re socially isolated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anybody to help you.
- You have less situational awareness: When you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be as able to hear that oncoming vehicle, or the dog barking next to you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness may be substantially impacted. 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 dangerous. And that means you might be slightly more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and have a tumble.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. This means your brain is worn out more often than not. An alert brain will identify and avoid obstacles, which will reduce the likelihood of having a fall.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into an arena, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can detect that you’re in a large space? Or when you jump into a car and you instantly know you’re in a small space? That’s because your ears are using high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. When you’re unable to hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as rapidly or intuitively. This can lead to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you may find yourself a bit more likely to get dizzy, experience vertigo, or have difficulty maintaining your balance. As a result of this, you may fall down more frequently.
Part of the connection between falling and hearing loss is also in your age. You’re more likely to experience progressing and permanent hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe consequences.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the solution when hearing loss is the issue. And new research has confirmed that. Your danger of falling could be reduced by up to 50% according to one study.
The link between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this obvious. That’s partly because people often fail to wear their hearing aids. As a consequence, falls among “hearing aid users” were frequently inconclusive. This wasn’t because the hearing aids weren’t working, it was because individuals weren’t wearing them.
The method of this research was conducted differently and perhaps more effectively. Those who wore their hearing aids often were classified into a different group than those who used them intermittently.
So how can you prevent falls by wearing hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more concentrated, and generally more vigilant. It doesn’t hurt that you have added spatial awareness. Additionally, many hearing aids include safety features created to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance quicker (this is essential for individuals 65 or older).
But the key here is to make sure you’re using your hearing aids often and consistently.
Get your fall prevention devices today
You will be able to remain close to your family members if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to find out more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us right away.