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 have a tendency to fall pretty much every day. Taking a tumble on your bicycle? Not unusual. Getting tripped up while sprinting across the yard. Happens every day. It isn’t really a concern because, well, kids are kind of limber. They don’t typically stay down for long.

The same can’t be said as you get older. Falling becomes more and more of a concern as you get older. To some extent, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older individuals tend to spend more time on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.

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

Can hearing loss cause falls?

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

So the question is, why would the risk of falling be raised by hearing loss?

That connection isn’t really that intuitive. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are some symptoms of hearing loss that do have this kind of direct effect on your ability to get around, and these symptoms can lead to a higher danger of having a fall. Here are a few of those symptoms:

  • You have less situational awareness: When you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the dog barking beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. Your situational awareness might be substantially impacted, in other words. Can hearing loss make you clumsy like this? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day activities can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is compromised. And your chance of stumbling into something and having a fall will be slightly higher.
  • You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you go into an auditorium, you immediately know that you’re in a spacious venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or when you jump into a car and you immediately know you’re in close quarters? That’s because your ears are utilizing high-frequency sounds to help you “echolocate,” basically. 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.
  • Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a consequence. An attentive brain will detect and avoid obstacles, which will reduce the risk of falling.
  • Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects your inner ear. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more often.
  • Depression: Social isolation and possibly even cognitive decline can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially isolated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anyone to help you.

Part of the connection between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to develop progressing and irreversible hearing loss. That will raise the chance of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious repercussions.

How can hearing aids help reduce falls?

If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution. And this is being confirmed by new research. Your danger of falling could be lowered by up to 50% based on one study.

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

The approach of this study was conducted differently and maybe more precisely. Individuals who wore their hearing aids often were classified into a different group than those who used them intermittently.

So why does wearing your hearing aids help you avoid falls? In general, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less tired. It doesn’t hurt that you have increased situational awareness. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can notify the authorities and family members if a fall happens. This can mean you get help faster (this is crucial for people 65 or older).

Regularly wearing 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 use hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.

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 today.

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.