Tuesday, Sept. 23 marked the beginning of Fall, which also served as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. There were educational events scheduled in 47 states to help people of all ages learn ways to reduce the risk of falling.
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 and older. Every 15 seconds, an older adult goes to the ER due to a fall-related injury, according to the National Council on Aging.
What could surprise some people is that new research shows an association between falls and hearing loss. Among people with mild hearing loss, falls are nearly three times more likely to occur, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. When people can’t hear well, they may be unaware of their surroundings and often struggle to maintain proper balance, increasing the chance of tripping and falling.
There are many important strategies older Americans can pursue to reduce their risk of falling, and we encourage all seniors and their loved ones to take note of the following tips to both maintain their hearing health and prevent falls.
Exercise regularly and incorporate balance, strength training and flexibility components. Check with local community or senior centers, which often offer programs such as A Matter of Balance, Tai Chi and Stepping On.
Review your medicines with your health care provider – some medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy.
Have your vision checked at least once a year, as poor vision can worsen your risk.
“Fall proof” your home, where six out of 10 falls occur. Important steps to take include improving lighting, installing handrails and moving items to make them more accessible.
Have your hearing tested annually, and use hearing aids when recommended. Common signs of hearing loss include turning up the volume on the TV or radio to levels that others find too loud, having trouble hearing people on the phone, and difficulty following conversations in noisy environments.
Limit exposure to loud noises. People should limit their exposure to loud sounds, such as loud music, lawn mowers or motorcycles, to no more than 20 minutes at a time. When attending concerts or sporting events, consider wearing hearing protection.
Maintaining your hearing health is an important part of maintaining your overall health. New research from Johns Hopkins shows that hearing loss is associated with not only a range of physical problems, such as falling, but also mental health problems, including social isolation and even dementia.
By following the above tips, people live fuller, healthier lives. For more information, visit hihealthinnovations.com.
- Don’t Fall Forward: Maintain your hearing to reduce the risk of falls - October 1, 2014