23 May Hearing through the Ages: 70+ group!
This week, we will be discussing the hearing needs of those that are 70+. Each post this week will highlight a new topic in hearing health that is important for those 70+ in age to consider.
Hearing Loss and Fall Prevention
Did you know that untreated hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk for falls?
2,017 people age 40 to 69 participated in the study (full article here) conducted by John Hopkins Hospital that showed the relationship between hearing loss and falling. The study results confirmed that even people with mild hearing loss were three times more likely to report a history of falling down.
Even the mild hearing loss of study participants caused a triple increase in dramatic falls and this increase held true despite the exclusion of severe hearing loss and other physical reasons like age, heart disease, and vestibular balance issues. In addition, for every 10 db rise in hearing loss their was a corresponding 1.4 fold rise in the reported incidents of falling. How can something like hearing loss contribute to falls? Well, not only do hearing and balance go hand and hand, but the mind is taxed by the additional stress of not hearing well and with ease.
More information on fall prevention
The information below is from ASHA.org, the american speech and hearing association. Click here for the full article.
People do things all the time that may cause them to fall. Falls can lead to injuries and can stop someone from doing what he or she enjoys. The good news is that many falls can be prevented.
What Puts Someone at Risk for Falling?
There can be problems in the environment, such as:
- Poor lighting
- Stairs that may be too steep or not in good repair
- Floor surfaces that are uneven—for example, moving from a hardwood floor to a carpet
- Outside surfaces that are uneven—for example, a sidewalk
Falls can also be caused by health issues, such as:
- Balance, hearing, or vision changes
- Muscle weakness or numbness
- Normal aging
- A fall in the past
- Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, or other problems
- Some medications
- A history of falls
Fear of Falling
Some people develop a fear of falling, especially if they have fallen before. People can worry about falling and may stop going out or doing what they enjoy. They may have to rely on others to help them. A fear of falling puts the person at risk for more falls.
- Use care in the bathroom: The bathroom can be a dangerous place. The floor can become wet and slippery, making it easier to fall. Getting in and out of the tub or shower is a common time for people to fall. To prevent falls in the bathroom:
- Use nonslip mats or strips in the bathtub or shower.
- Install grab bars inside and outside of the tub or shower.
- Install grab bars near the toilet for support.
- Clean up wet areas and spills as quickly as possible.
- Keep muscles strong through exercise: Sitting too much puts you at risk for falling! Many exercise programs improve strength and balance. Learn about classes that target health conditions that you might have, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or Parkinson’s disease.
- Learn about the medications you are taking: People who take four or more medications may be at risk for falling. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you are taking and any side effects. Make sure you tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, including over-thecounter drugs, herbal remedies, and vitamins.
- Keep your vision sharp: Poor vision can make it harder to get around safely. To help make sure you’re seeing clearly, have your eyes checked every year and wear glasses or contact lenses with the right prescription strength.
- Have your hearing checked: Good hearing helps us notice sounds in our environment that can warn of danger. People who cannot hear well may stay by themselves and be less active. Reduced activity can put you at risk for falling.
- Make your house safer: About half of all falls happen at home. Use bright lightbulbs to brighten dark rooms. Wear secure shoes, not slippers or flip-flops, inside and outside of the house.
- Use contrasting colors at steps or thresholds so you can see them clearly. For example, if your bathroom is painted white, make sure the shower curtain is a different color and the threshold into the shower is a contrasting color. On dark wooden floors, paint the edge of the steps a lighter color.
- Keep emergency phone numbers in large print close by.
- A home safety check can help identify fall hazards, like clutter and poor lighting.