November is Falls Prevention Month

The risk of falls presents more issues than just a few scrapes and bruises. A fall can lead to increased social isolation, increased burden on caregivers and the health care system, and even increased risk for future falls. Given that Nova Scotia has an aging population, the risk of falls in older adults is a major concern, but did you know that untreated hearing loss has been related to increased risk for falls in younger populations as well?

Because your inner ear includes both a hearing portion and a balance portion, certain types of damage or diseases can cause issues with both your hearing and balance. These concerns often require significant follow-up, including balance testing with an audiologist, possible referral to an Ear Nose and Throat specialists, and physiotherapy.

Another concern is reduced environmental awareness with untreated hearing loss. Your risk for falls increases when you are unaware of approaching hazards or unable to hear someone saying cautions like “watch your step.” When you add in the fact that straining to listen with a hearing loss is tiring, the combination of fatigue and reduced environmental awareness greatly increases your risk of falling.

Tricks like having lights above your stairs, removing loose throw rugs from floors, and keeping cords and plugs out of walking paths will all help to reduce your risk of falls. Along with these tricks, it is also important to discuss your hearing and balance concerns with your audiologist in order to better manage your falls risk at home and in your community.