Untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of falling
Posted by Nancy A. Frasier, BC-HIS on December 19, 2022
If you are an older adult or have a parent, grandparent, or friend who is not as sturdy on their feet as they once were, you’ve probably thought about or talked about falling.
Falls are some of the most frequent injuries suffered by older adults. They can be the scariest, too. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
- 37.3 million falls are severe enough to require medical attention each year.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- Adults older than 60 suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.
While no one is fall-proof, the older we get, the more our chances of falling increase. There are many reasons why older adults are more prone to falls — from weakness or medication side effects to vision problems, slower reflexes and more.
Untreated hearing loss can also increase the risk of falls — in both older and younger adults. In fact, using data from several national health surveys, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that people with mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling!
Experts have several theories for why this is:
- Hearing loss impairs awareness, which makes tripping and falling more likely.
- Hearing loss shifts the brain’s “cognitive load” — meaning the more our brains need to spend energy on one thing (in this case, listening and making sense of what we hear), the less energy it has for other things (in this case, maintaining balance and gait, which are both demanding).
- Hearing loss can impact our vestibular system, a part of the inner ear which is key to balance and body position.
Treating hearing loss can help lower the risk of falls
Good news, though! A Washington University School of Medicine study found that “enhancing hearing appears to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss.” And, more recently, a 2019 clinical investigation concluded that hearing aid usage is associated with lower risk of falls in older adults with hearing loss.
One obvious way to enhance hearing loss is with hearing aids. Not only can our Evolv AI hearing aids help effortlessly enhance hearing, but if the wearer does happen to fall, they’re also the only hearing aids with built-in sensors that can detect falls and send an immediate alert to chosen contacts.
After a fall is detected, a text message alert is sent to the emergency contacts programmed into the companion app. These contacts can immediately reach out or call for help, and even see a map of where the wearer is.
Falls aren’t just common and potentially dangerous, they can rob us of our independence and be a huge source of grief and worry for those who love us. This technology enables the wearer to be more independent and loved ones to worry a lot less. It even has the potential to save lives!
Learn more about Evolv AI’s fall detection feature or try them for yourself!