I am proud to say that I am a new member of the Metrolina Falls Prevention Coalition and that I got the opportunity to participate in their big expo this week at the Levine Senior Center in Matthews, North Carolina.
It was a hit, with a couple of hundred attendees and 25 vendors/sponsors, for a fully programmed morning of expert speakers, a dance performance and even a chair-yoga session (very relaxing!). I was ecstatic to bring new information to the group about how hearing loss increases risk of falling.
The group is exactly what it sounds like, and I am astonished and impressed that it exists. Yes, this is a group of people and organizations who are extremely concerned about helping people reduce their risk of falling and providing resources for them to heal and get back on their feet as quickly as possible if they do have a fall. It’s basically people against other people falling. Talk about concern for your fellow man.
What many people don’t know is that untreated hearing loss increases your risk of falling 3-fold. You heard me right! Research out of Johns Hopkins found that you are three times more likely to fall, even if your hearing loss falls in the mild range. In fact, as the hearing loss increases, they found no extra increase in the fall risk. The crazy thing about hearing loss is that it can really sneak up on you. A mild loss is actually pretty easy to ignore.
Your brain is listening and running it’s own interference in the background causing you to think: Man, these kids don’t speak up these days… it’s so irritating that people mumble and don’t look at you when they speak to you….When did the movies get so loud but distorted?….Nobody can hear the TV that low, my wife must have supersonic hearing….Everybody has trouble in crowds. The scary part is that even while you are ignoring it, the hearing loss is silently playing a role in your increased risk of falling, along with a host of other health risks.
There are a couple of theories as to why this risk of falling increases. It could be increased cognitive load, because as your brain is straining a little harder to distinguish speech, it is pulling some attention away from your sense of balance. Another theory, and one that I see in anecdotal experience, is that those soft sounds like footsteps on the floor, a chair sliding behind you, and all the little soft clues that give you environmental awareness are the first sounds to disappear.
Fortunately, most hearing losses can see significant improvement with hearing aids. Call for a free hearing screening today to see where you fall on the spectrum and to determine if hearing aids could help you.
To read more about how hearing loss increases risk of falling, check out these sources:
National Center for Biotechnology InformationJohns Hopkins Medicine
Hi! I’m Madison. I’m a Hearing Instrument Specialist (like my mother). I’m observing, learning, absorbing and sharing as I become a part of this beautiful South Charlotte Hearing community. I want to know you! So please leave me comments if my posts are meaningful to you or teach you something new, and feel free to tweet me at @LevineHearing!
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