It’s difficult to know the best way to walk the line between safety and adventure. For older people, we know that lowering the risk of falling can help them to maintain autonomy and mobility without using draconian safety measures that can limit freedom and self-confidence.

We might invest our time and resources in a falling course or in installing assistive equipment into the bath and shower areas. In addition to other standard precautions, treating hearing loss is another way to reduce the risk of falling.

 

The seriousness of falls

It might surprise you to learn that falling is a leading cause of death in the United States and that the elderly are the group most at risk of falling. The falls themselves can cause severe harm, since bones in older people are more brittle and less resilient than those of younger folks. What’s more, surgery carries higher risks when the patient is older.

But the concern doesn’t stop if the fall doesn’t result in serious injury. Once a person falls, their likelihood of falling again increases. What’s more, falling once can make people more cautious to the point of greatly limiting activity and mobility.

Because falls are of great concern among older people, it’s important to take steps to decrease the likelihood of a fall altogether.

Why hearing loss impacts our safety

Hearing loss is a condition that impacts a huge percentage of the older population. One in three people over the age of 65 is living with hearing loss and half of all people over the age of 80 deal with the issue.

The earliest signs of hearing loss seem to point to inconvenience, such as trouble making out what the people around you are saying or relying too heavily on the closed captioning function of your television.

However, our sense of hearing does more than help us communicate with other people, it also helps us place ourselves in our environment.

 

How our hearing keeps us safe

Because we have two ears, we unconsciously use something called ‘binural hearing’ to locate where sounds are coming from. Let’s use a car horn as an example. Our brain measures the difference in volume between our two ears when the car horn honks, which then tells us which direction to turn our head. We might see that we need to step back onto the curb to avoid being clipped by a car. As you can see, it’s a very important ability!

It’s also how we can turn toward a person speaking to us. This is a great trick at a party when someone is calling our name, but it’s also a life-saving feature if we’re about to walk into a dangerous situation.

 

Why treating hearing loss can help prevent falls

When we lose access to healthy hearing, we begin to lose our ability to be alerted to danger in the form of sound. We also become less aware of what is happening around us. Not hearing our dog following closely behind us in the house can lead to a tumble.

We also become less alert when we are living with untreated hearing loss. This is because our brains are working incredibly hard at something that used to be a much easier process. As our ability to hear the full spectrum of the sounds around us fades, our brains must work overtime to piece together meaning from the incomplete information they have. It causes us to be distracted with less reliable reaction time.

Treating hearing loss can help both restore our ability to locate sound in the world, increase our awareness of the environments around us and relieve some of the effort our brains use to listen effectively.

 

Schedule a hearing consultation

Choosing to proactively monitor your hearing health can help you to live a more vibrant and free life. Schedule a hearing consultation with our team today to get a sense of how you are hearing and find out if you are a good candidate for treatment. Our highly trained hearing professionals will lead you through the simple process of a hearing exam before we begin exploring solutions together. We will help you find your way back to your most enhanced listening life!

 

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