When you’re a youngster, falling is just a part of life. Taking a tumble on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet when you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. It’s not really a concern because, well, kids are kind of limber. They don’t usually stay down for very long.
The same cannot 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 more slowly). Older people tend to spend more time on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in people older than 65.
That’s why tools and devices that can minimize falls are always being sought after by healthcare professionals. Hearing aids could be just such a device according to research.
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: does hearing loss make a fall more likely to begin with? It appears as though the answer may be, yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the risk of falling be increased by hearing loss?
There’s not really an intuitive connection. After all, hearing loss does not directly influence your ability to move or see. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated risk of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- Exhaustion: When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears are always straining, and your brain is always working extra hard. Your brain will be constantly exhausted as a consequence. An exhausted brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may wind up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have seen.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can detect that 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 like “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to quickly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-frequency tones. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the consequences.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is extremely important to your overall equilibrium. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects the inner ear. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
- Depression: Social solitude and possibly even cognitive decline can be the consequence of untreated hearing loss. When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that oncoming vehicle, or the barking dog beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness might be substantially impacted. Can hearing loss make you clumsy in this way? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And your chance of stumbling into something and falling will be a little higher.
Age is also a factor with regard to hearing loss-associated falls. As you grow older, you’re more likely to develop irreversible and advancing hearing loss. That will increase the probability of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe consequences.
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 solution. And new research has confirmed that. One recent study found that wearing hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
In the past, these figures (and the connection between hearing aids and remaining on your feet) were a little bit less clear. In part, that’s because not everybody wears their hearing aids all of the time. As a result, falls among “hearing aid users” were frequently inconclusive. This wasn’t because the hearing aids weren’t working, it was because people weren’t using them.
But this new study took a different (and perhaps more accurate) approach. Individuals who wore their hearing aids frequently were classified into a different group than those who used them occasionally.
So how can you prevent falls by using hearing aids? Generally speaking, they keep you more alert, more concentrated, and less fatigued. It doesn’t hurt that you have increased spatial awareness. Additionally, many hearing aids include safety features created to trigger in the case of a fall. Help will arrive quicker this way.
Regularly wearing your hearing aids is the trick here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you reunite with your friends, enjoy quality time with your family members, and remain connected to everybody who’s important in your life.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
If you want to learn more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us right away.