When you’re a kid, falling is simply a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet while you’re running outside? Also pretty typical. Kids are pretty limber so, no big deal. They don’t usually stay down for very long.
The same can’t be said as you get older. Falling becomes more and more of a worry as you grow older. In part, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal slower). 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 individuals over 65.
It isn’t shocking, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt for tools and devices that can reduce falls. Hearing aids may be just such a device according to research.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
If you want to fully grasp how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can increase your risk of falling? It looks as though the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss increase the risk of a fall for people?
That link isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to move or see. But this type of direct impact on your mobility, and an increased danger of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. This means your brain is worn out more frequently than not. An alert brain will notice and avoid obstacles, which will decrease the chance of falling.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can result in social solitude and depression (and also an increased danger of dementia). You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially isolated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anybody to help you.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you may find yourself a bit more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble maintaining your balance. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
- 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 huge space? Or when you get into a car and you immediately know you’re in a small space? Your ears are actually utilizing something like “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to assist your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those assessments when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-frequency tones. This can bring about disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- You have less situational awareness: You may not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness might be substantially affected. Can hearing loss make you clumsy like this? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make daily tasks a little more dangerous. And your chance of stumbling into something and falling will be slightly higher.
Age is also a factor with regard to hearing loss-induced falls. As you age, you’re more likely to develop irreversible and advancing hearing loss. That will raise the likelihood of falling. As a result, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious repercussions.
How can the danger of falling be lowered by using hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the solution. And new research has borne that out. Your danger of falling could be decreased by as much as 50% based on one study.
In the past, these figures (and the relationship between hearing aids and remaining on your feet) were a little bit fuzzier. That’s to some extent because individuals often fail to wear their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were having a fall. This wasn’t because the hearing aids were malfunctioning, it was because individuals weren’t using them.
But this new research took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. Individuals who wore their hearing aids frequently were put in a different group than those who used them occasionally.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you avoid falls? In general, they keep you more alert, more focused, and less tired. The added situational awareness also helped. 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 assistance faster (this is crucial for individuals 65 or older).
But the trick here is to be sure you’re using 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 stay on your feet, literally!
If you want to find out more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us today.