If Father used a hearing aid, might he be steadier on his feet and less likely to experience a nasty tumble? It’s too early to say for sure, but the results of one small study indicate that there may be a connection between increased hearing ability and ability to balance.
Falls a problem
Falls often become more frequent – and dangerous – as we age. Elderly bones do not have the strength they once did, and when fractures occur they are likely to take longer to heal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the number one cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. In fact, almost 23,000 older adults died from fall-related injuries in 2011.
Prevention is key
Preventing falls is a major goal for aging parents and other seniors (as well as those who care for them). Research into ways to achieve this goal is most welcome.
Recently, a small study looked at seniors with hearing loss. The data from this study suggests that among those seniors with hearing loss, those who used hearing aids seemed to have better balancing abilities, and in turn were less likely to fall.
As mentioned, the study was small: only 14 individuals participated. However, the study’s results do seem to indicate that how we hear and process hearing has an impact on how well we balance, in the same way that how we see has an impact on how well we balance. Just as it is easier to stay balanced in a well-lit room than in total darkness, it also appears to be easier to stay balanced with a heightened sense of hearing than with limited hearing.
Researchers used several tests to determine whether the increased ability to hear resulted in more secure balancing. Because this was just a small study, much more research is required; hopefully larger studies will be conducted and will provide more information that can help doctors recommend new strategies for aging parents to use to avoid falls.