The Risk of Falls and How Hearing Aids Can Help

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

Kids tend to fall on a daily basis. Wiping out on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet while you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. It’s not really a worry because, well, kids are pretty limber. They don’t typically stay down for long.

As you get older though, that becomes less and less true. Falling becomes more and more of a concern as you grow older. To some extent, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older individuals may have a more difficult time getting up after a fall, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in individuals older than 65.

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

Can hearing loss cause falls?

If you want to know how hearing aids could possibly prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely in the first place? In some situations, it seems that the answer is a strong yes.

So the question is, why would the danger of falling be increased by hearing loss?

There isn’t really an intuitive link. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But this kind of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated danger of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are some of those symptoms:

  • Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is incredibly important to your overall equilibrium. So you might find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts your inner ear. As a result of this, you could fall down more often.
  • 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 neglected hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness may be substantially affected. Can you become clumsy in this way due to hearing loss? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make everyday tasks a bit more dangerous. And that means you might be slightly more likely to unintentionally stumble into something, and take a fall.
  • Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. This means your brain is worn out more frequently than not. A weary brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you might end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have noticed.
  • Depression: Neglected hearing loss can lead to social solitude and depression (not to mention an increased danger of dementia). When you’re socially separated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
  • High-frequency sounds get lost: You know how when you go into an auditorium, you instantly know that you’re in a huge venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or when you jump into a car and you instantly know you’re in close quarters? Your ears are actually utilizing something like “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. When you can no longer hear high-frequency sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as rapidly or intuitively. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the result.

Age is also a consideration when it comes to hearing loss-induced falls. You’re more likely to experience progressing and irreversible hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious consequences.

How can the danger of falling be lowered by wearing hearing aids?

If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the solution. And this is being validated by new research. One recent study revealed that using hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.

The connection between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this clear. That’s partly because people often fail to wear their hearing aids. As a consequence, falls among “hearing aid users” were frequently inconclusive. This was because people weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.

But this new research took a different (and maybe more accurate) strategy. Individuals who used 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? They keep you less fatigued, more focused, and generally more alert. It doesn’t hurt that you have added spatial awareness. In addition, many hearing aids have safety features created to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get help quicker (this is crucial for people 65 or older).

Consistently using your hearing aids is the trick here.

Prevent falls with new hearing aids

You will be able to remain 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, make an appointment with us right away.

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.