September is National Falls Prevention Month. Research has shown that falls is the leading cause of accidental death for people over age 65.* But did you know that hearing loss and balance are linked?
In fact, people with even a mild hearing loss are at 3x greater risk for falling than those with normal hearing. And every additional 10-dB of hearing loss increases your chance of falling by 1.4 fold.**
Dr. Frank Lin, an otologist and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, states that some possibilities for this relationship is that people who cannot hear well might not have good awareness of their overall environment, making tripping and falling more likely.
Another likely possibility is the increased cognitive load. “Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding,” Lin says. “If hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, there may be fewer resources available to help with maintaining balance and gait.”
Will hearing aids help? Research has shown that hearing aids provide a significant improvement in balance and decreased risk of falling among older adults with hearing loss.*** Hearing aids can re-introduce access to spatial cues in the environment and provide more sensory input to the brain. This may help reduce the fall risk in people with hearing loss.
The National Council on Aging recommends these 6 steps to reducing your risk for falls:
- Find a good balance and exercise program
- Talk to your healthcare provider
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually
- Keep your home safe by removing tripping hazards and increasing lighting
- Talk to your family member
To learn about more ways to reduce your risk of falling, visit ncoa.org/FallsPrevention
If you would like to have your hearing tested (as recommended above by the NCOA) and discuss possible treatment options, please give our office a call for a complimentary consultation. We look forward to meeting you!