Is My Hearing Health Linked to My Risk of Falling?
Hearing health often takes a backseat in our overall well-being. We tend to procrastinate, believing that we can delay our hearing exams until next week, next month, or next year. In reality, the average adult waits up to seven years after noticing hearing difficulties before scheduling an appointment, which can lead to severe consequences, including dangerous falls.
Gradual and painless, even a mild hearing loss may make it seem like those around you are mumbling or your ears are constantly blocked, similar to the sensation after swimming. If you struggle to hear in noisy environments, you likely have hearing loss. Are you finding yourself straining to follow conversations? Exerting extra effort to comprehend what’s being said? These are signs of hearing loss, which can lead to fatigue and other costly health issues. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s crucial to address it promptly. “Hearing loss is one of several factors causing falls. Even a mild degree of hearing loss triples the risk of an accidental fall. And this risk increases by 140 percent for every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss.”¹
As we age, we need to discuss one of those costly health issues: the risk of falling associated with hearing loss. In our younger years, we could often bounce back after a fall, but this becomes increasingly challenging as we age. Falling can have severe consequences, potentially robbing individuals of their independence or worse. Over the past decade, the fall-related death rate for older adults has risen by over 30%, and in the coming decade, it’s projected that there will be seven fall-related deaths every hour in the United States. Many assume that feeling off-balance and experiencing falls is a natural part of aging, but this is not the case. “More than 1 in 3 Americans over age 65 will fall each year, according to the National Institute on Aging. In addition, approximately 1 in 3 individuals between 65 and 74 has hearing loss.”²
Numerous factors contribute to increased fall risk among older adults, including changes in blood pressure, nutrition, medication interactions, vision issues, and hearing loss. While hearing loss may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a leading cause of falls, the data is clear: hearing loss can increase the risk of falling by up to 500%, depending on its severity. Fortunately, we possess the means to help patients dramatically reduce their fall risk.
7 Practical Solutions to Help with Fall Prevention
The most important step in preventing falls is to address your hearing loss immediately. The cost of a fall far exceeds the expense of treating hearing loss. Consider this fact: more than three million people are treated annually for fall-related injuries, with over $30 billion spent each year in Medicare and individual costs. This is a cause for alarm!
Even after you have seen your Hearing Healthcare Specialist, there are specific actions you can take to help prevent falls.
- Fall-proof your home. Remove clutter, throw rugs, items on stairs, pet toys, electrical cords, etc.
- For nighttime, use nightlights to see better. Keep lamps at your bedside. Install handrails and keep frequently used items within reach.
- For showers, use anti-slip mats, install grab bars, use a shower/tub chair.
- Stay active. Keep your muscles and joints healthy to help with good balance.
- Use a cane, walker or wheelchair when needed.
- Wear low heals and/or sensible shoes that have good support.
- When standing or sitting up, take a minute and go slow. Dizziness can cause falls.
Falls are a serious matter! We want you to live a full and active life without the fear of falling. Please stay vigilant, modify your home, continue to exercise, and increase your awareness of risks and prevention. You can live a confident, social, and happy life as you age.
Hearing Loss Treatment Options in Meridian and Caldwell, ID
At Everything Hearing in Meridian and Caldwell, Idaho, we specialize in the personal treatment of hearing loss that goes well beyond traditional hearing aids. (And of course, we provide hearing aids for purchase or lease!) Our practice goes beyond the traditional audiology treatments.
Since everyone’s hearing loss differs, we use various tools to treat individual hearing loss. Some of these treatment tools include:
• Cognivue screenings
• Listening and communication enhancement auditory training
• Aural rehabilitation software
• And of course, technology treatments such as hearing aids
We have two Idaho locations, in Caldwell and in Meridian, so that we are easily accessible to anyone in the Treasure Valley area who is seeking to learn more about their hearing loss and the Technical Treatment Plan options we offer. Contact us for a free booklet with more information or make an appointment today!
²UT Southwestern Medical Center: For older adults, hearing loss and falls go hand in hand