Senior citizens are susceptible to falling. This risk is increased with an unknown loss of hearing. Senior citizen falls are responsible for numerous injuries and can lead to other medical problems down the road. Injuries such as bone breaks, hip fractures and even brain injuries can be the result of a fall.

Every 10dB of hearing loss increases the likelihood of falling by 1.4 times. Physicians routinely advise their older patients to exercise, have their vision checked, and monitor medications, but rarely request hearing tests above a simply screening.

Do you know someone that you continuously have to ask to turn down the TV or do you constantly have to repeat yourself? These are prime candidates for a hearing test.

Many studies have concluded that hearing loss leads to depression, dementia, reclusiveness, among others ailments. People who can’t hear well might not have a good awareness of their overall environment. They might not be able to hear a car or bicycle coming down the street as they try to cross.

The Journal of the American Medical Association states, “a possible casual pathway between hearing loss and falling are intriguing because hearing loss is highly prevalent but remains vastly under treated in older adults.”

If a friend or family member suggests you should get a hearing test, they are not being critical or saying something is wrong with you, they are actually being a true friend.

If the brain is overwhelmed with demands, it is limited on balance. Dr. Frank Lin, at Johns Hopkins, and his colleague Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, of the National Institute on Aging, used data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and came up with the following conclusion.

“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 cognitive resources to help with maintaining balance and gait.”

In those with hearing loss, cognitive load increases and there is a direct correlation in falls. If you know someone that has taken a tumble lately, it may be due to a hearing issue.
If you would like to schedule a free hearing screening, a full evaluation, purchase hearing aids or noise reduction molds, would like to discuss the new technology, such as rechargeable units or Bluetooth capabilities, or just have a simple question, call Dr. Richards at 729-4086.

Dr. Cristin Richards is owner of Great Scott Audiology at 3 Horton Place in Topsham. For more information, visit greatscotttaudiology.com.