If you have a senior-aged friend or family member, you're likely already aware of the risk of falls older adults face. Research showed that over a 12 month period, a whopping 25% of Australians in their 60s and 40% of those in their 70s suffered a fall, with almost 1/3 of these falls resulting in serious injuries. What's worse is that the risk becomes greater for seniors with hearing difficulties. A Johns Hopkins study showed that even mild hearing loss makes people three times more likely to have a history of falling. If you know a senior with hearing loss and you're worried about them experiencing a fall, here are 3 tips to share with them that could reduce the risk.
Get a Hearing Aid
Hearing aids are one of the best ways for hearing impaired seniors to reduce their risk of suffering a painful and dangerous fall. People who have trouble hearing what's around them are less aware of the hazards in their surroundings. On top of that, as the brain uses more resources to compensate for lack of auditory input, it has less cognitive power to help keep the body upright and stable. Improving hearing with an aid can eliminate these issues, ensuring that seniors are more aware of their environment and helping their bodies maintain balance and gait. Even if a senior already has a hearing aid, it may be time to upgrade to a newer model for increased safety.
Make Use of Living Aids
Aside from making daily life easier, living aids for hearing impaired seniors could also help to reduce their risk of falls. For example, vibrating alarms or LED alarms that activate when the front door is opened could help reduce a senior's risk of being startled into falling by a family member arriving home. If they're suffering from other age-related afflictions, seniors may also benefit from living aids targeted at their non-hearing related health problems. Those with mobility issues or joint pain, for example, can use a long-armed grabbing tool to clear their environment of small obstacles that could trip them up and a handrail in the bathroom to prevent slipping on a wet floor.
Do Balance Exercises
Losing one's balance is a major cause of senior falls. As the vestibular system, which controls balance, is housed in the ears, those with hearing difficulties often also suffer from problems with balance and coordination. Seniors who have vestibular and balance difficulties can use exercises to improve their body's stability. As some exercises can be dangerous for seniors with mobility issues, it's best to talk to a physiotherapist to create a tailored balance-improvement strategy.