How healthy hearing can prevent dangerous falls.
Falling is a big danger for our older loved ones. In addition to injury a fall can lead to even more serious complications. Read about the connection between healthy hearing and avoiding falls.
“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” That old television commercial has become a staple of comedy over the years, but it’s grounded in very real fear. As we age, the possibility of falling carries significant dangers. For instance, we don’t heal as readily as we once did, and if we live alone there is a very real possibility that we may fall in such a way that we can’t get to a telephone to call for help.
Using walkers and canes is part of keeping ourselves safe from falls, but so is maintaining our ability to hear clearly. Research shows (and it stands to reason) that weakened hearing limits the ability to react to certain sounds that are intended to warn us of a possible fall.
It has also been calculated that just mild hearing loss nearly triples the risk of falling. That risk isn’t only about the ability to hear warning signals. It has been noted that people with hearing loss may have a greater risk of falling because they expend too much cognitive energy (brain power) on listening, taking thought resources away from maintaining balance and gait while walking.
Fortunately, researchers have also pointed out the positive effect hearing aids can have in reducing the risk of falls. One study found that people performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on than when they were turned off; that suggests a very real possibility that hearing aids can be effective in helping to correct imbalance for older adults with hearing loss.
It also suggests that one of the most important things we can do to help older loved ones reduce their risk of falling is to encourage regular hearing tests and urge them to use hearing aids if they’re prescribed.