Hearing loss has been proven to play a significant role in developing serious medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. But little to most people’s knowledge, the inability to hear clearly, or at all, leads to another alarming public health problem—falls.
Studies show that seniors who have a hearing impairment, specifically those without devices to help them out on their condition, are more likely to fall down as compared to those who do use hearing aids. In Singapore, one out of four people aged 65 and above tends to suffer from the risk of falling.What are the risks?
- When a person falls, he or she could end up with cuts and concussions. Even worse, this may develop into fractures and head injuries.
- Physical injuries damage the body parts which can then increase the risk of early death.
- Falling down not only risks the physical health of a person but can also take a toll on the psychological wellbeing. Elders who experience the fall tends to develop a trauma. This often leads to the fear of facing the outside world, which could further branch into isolation and depression.
- Good hearing helps us maintain a proper balance. When a hearing device is in place, the sound produced is used as auditory reference points that help maintain balance.
- Alongside with sight, hearing is another vital element to our locomotion. When we move, opening our eyes allows us to see the path we are taking. On the other hand, using our ears gives us the ability to balance our bodies.
- A healthy sense of hearing gives us spatial awareness and an increase in cognitive load. Spatial awareness is the ability to relate your body’s position to other elements around you. While cognitive load refers to the amount of mental effort at work in the working memory. Unhealthy hearing increases cognitive load, which then causes changes in the gait (manner of walking) of a person.
💡 Quick experiment: Try standing with your eyes closed and your ears covered. Notice how difficult it is to maintain balance and keep standing upright.How to prevent falls from occurring?
- Exercise regularly. Normal ageing comes with a steady loss of bodily functions. However, you’ll find that moving about and stretching your legs help improve balance.
- Review your prescription medicines. Take a look back on your maintenance and other prescribed medicines. Check if these include ingredients that may cause unnecessary drowsiness or dizziness.
- Make homes safer. By removing tripping hazards at home, you are reducing the possibility of falls. It’s also a good idea to install handrails or grab bars for additional support. For further safety, you may also consider improving the lighting fixtures at home.
- Get a hearing aid. Alongside these tips, the best way to reduce the risk of falling is by coming to terms with the reality of hearing loss. Listening Lab offers a generous variety of hearing aid devices so there’s surely something that will fit the taste and lifestyle of you or your loved one.