Prevent Falls by Treating Hearing Loss

Dr. Li-Korotky

Unfortunately, falls are a common form of injury among seniors. The National Council on Aging reports that every 11 seconds an older adult visits an emergency room due to a fall-related injury. Indeed, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injury for seniors in the United States. 

With these high rates of concern, it is more important than ever to prevent falls in our senior years without succumbing to fear and limitation. While it is important to prevent serious falls, we also must encourage ourselves to remain mobile and active as long as possible. How can you reach a balance between taking falls seriously and also remaining engaged in the activities most important to you? 

One simple step to reduce the likelihood of falling might surprise you: treating hearing loss. Before we explore the link between hearing loss and falling, let’s consider some of the other ways to prevent falling. With these steps in mind, you will not need to live in fear and can continue to engage with the world actively and fully. 

Preventing Falls

The simplest way to prevent falls in the home is to make your paths of mobility clear and simple. If you have a home that is cluttered with furniture in inconvenient places, take the opportunity to rearrange and clear the space. You will likely find that the removal of some items of unnecessary furniture is like a breath of fresh air in your home. Rugs might be attractive in the home, but they also make it easier to trip unnecessarily, so you might consider removing them or adding a sticky backing. 

Beyond this simple step, you may want to install rails in places where falls are particularly likely, such as the shower or bath. Dealing with the stairs is a more challenging issue, and when the time comes you might want to consider installing an additional handrail or other supports. Physical exercise is a preventative step to make falling less likely. If you are stretching and strengthening your muscles, you will find that you are better able to adapt to inconsistencies in your walking pattern, including an unexpected piece of debris or simply stumbling over your own two feet. 

Mobility and balance issues can be associated with some preexisting health conditions such as diabetes or arthritis, and some medications can have a side effect of disequilibrium, or lack of balance, as well. Consult with your doctor if you feel that you have a new likelihood to stumble after starting a new medication. 

Treating Hearing Loss

In addition to these practical steps, there is one very simple step you can do to make falling less likely and to remain actively engaged in the world: treating hearing loss. Our sense of hearing has a remarkable link with our sense of balance, and we use hearing in unconscious ways to orient to the world. A little like the sonar ability of bats, we sense the reverberation of sound off of walls, objects, and our path of motion to orient around dangers and to find the most beneficial way forward. 

Though we don’t actively engage in listening to the room to make our way, our minds are actively working to orient to the world with a sense of balance. Now, imagine the effects of hearing loss on that sense of balance. Without being able to sense how sounds are bouncing off of architecture and objects, we are moving through space without that unconscious guide. 

High frequencies, which are commonly the first to go for a person with hearing loss, offer the quickest response to our ears from the environment with the subtlest differences to be perceived. If you suspect that you have hearing loss, treatment is one of the simplest ways to prevent falling and other mobility issues. 

When you make an appointment for a hearing test, you will have a consultation with our team about the particular features of your lifestyle that make hearing difficult. If you feel like falling is a concern for you, don’t hesitate to mention that to us. By outfitting you with an appropriate pair of hearing aids, you just might be able to prevent an unnecessary fall with other negative effects. 

Contact us today to learn more!