The Risk of Falls and How Hearing Aids Can Help

Senior woman fell down and is sitting on carpet and touching forehead with hand

When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Wiping out on your bike? Not unusual. Getting tripped up when sprinting across the yard. Also fairly typical. Kids are very limber so, no big deal. They rebound pretty easily.

As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. Falling becomes more and more of a worry as you get older. One reason for this is that bones are more brittle and heal slower when you’re older. Older individuals may have a more difficult time standing back up after a fall, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. As a result, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in individuals older than 65.

That’s why tools and devices that can minimize falls are always being sought after by healthcare professionals. Hearing aids might be just such a device according to research.

Can hearing loss bring about falls?

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 raise your risk of falling? In some situations, it seems that the answer is a definite affirmative.

So why does hearing loss increase the risk of a fall for people?

There’s not exactly an intuitive connection. After all, hearing loss does not directly impact your ability to move or see. But this kind of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated risk of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:

  • Your situational awareness is impaired: You might not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have neglected hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness may be substantially impacted. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy like this? Well, in a way yes, everyday tasks can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is compromised. And that means you may be a little bit more likely to unintentionally bump into something, and take a tumble.
  • Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. 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.
  • Depression: Untreated hearing loss can cause social solitude and depression (not to mention 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.
  • Exhaustion: When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, your ears are constantly straining, and your brain is always working extra hard. This means your brain is exhausted more often than not. A weary brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you might wind up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have detected.
  • You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into an arena, you know how even if your eyes are closed, 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? That’s because your ears are utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” basically. When you’re unable to hear high-pitch sounds due to hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as quickly or intuitively. This can result in disorientation and loss of situational awareness.

Age is also a factor when it comes to hearing loss-associated falls. You’re more likely to develop progressing and irreversible hearing loss. That will increase the probability of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious repercussions.

How can the risk of falling be decreased by wearing hearing aids?

If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the remedy. And this is being confirmed by new research. Your danger of falling could be reduced by as much as 50% according to one study.

The link between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this evident. In part, that’s because not everyone uses their hearing aids all of the time. As a consequence, falls among “hearing aid users” were often inconclusive. This was because individuals weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.

But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. Individuals who used their hearing aids frequently were classified into a different group than people who wore them intermittently.

So how can you avoid falls by using hearing aids? In general, they keep you more alert, more focused, and less tired. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Additionally, many hearing aids have safety features designed to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance quicker (this is crucial for individuals older than 65).

But the key here is to be certain you’re using your hearing aids often and consistently.

Get your fall prevention devices today

Hearing aids can help you catch up with your friends, enjoy quality moments with your loved ones, and remain connected to everyone who’s significant in your life.

They can also help prevent a fall!

Make an appointment with us today if you want to know more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.