When we think about the risks of growing older, we often think about falls. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for elderly Americans, affecting one in four people aged 65 and older every year. As a result, falls take a toll on healthcare systems, family finances, and seniors’ independence alike.
One of the most concerning aspects of a fall is its potential to impact a senior's hips. 86% of hip fractures occur in individuals aged 65 and older. And as the American population overall continues to age, the effects of hip fractures, hip fracture treatment, and hip fracture recovery due to falls are likely to increase.
The solution? To change the way we address fracture prevention.
Prevent Falls, And You Prevent Hip Fractures
Even though one in four elderly Americans falls annually, falls are an under-recognized risk factor for bone fractures. Falls are the strongest single risk factor for a bone fracture - yet when we think about bone care in the elderly, do we think about a patient fall prevention program? Or do we think about something else?
Generally speaking, people are likely to think about something else. Currently, to minimize the risk of bone and hip fractures, the medical community heavily focuses on osteoporosis prevention - not a proper patient fall prevention program. And relatively few general practitioners have recently assessed the risk of falling among their elderly patients, or even know how to do it.
Ignoring the primary risk factor of bone fractures has unfortunately created a gap in needed care. Hip fracture treatment and hip fracture recovery alone are associated with substantial mortality, morbidity, and economic costs. Specifically, on average, a hip fracture results in a 25% reduction in life expectancy, and 17% of remaining life would be spent in a nursing facility.
But Hearing Loss Treatment Supports Patient Fall Prevention
At Hearing Unlimited, we’re doing our part to help prevent falls and the fractures they may cause. We know we have a role to play because there is a strong association between hearing loss and falls.
Studies have shown that patients with mild hearing loss have nearly 3-fold increased odds of reporting a fall over the preceding year. And people with poor hearing were at a three-to-fourfold higher risk for falls compared with people with good hearing.
While it initially seems odd that ear and hearing doctors can play a role in fall and fracture prevention, the key to this connection is in the structure of the ear itself. We rely on sensory input to maintain stability; and our ears do a lot to help us process this input and maintain our balance. That’s why ear infections can impact us so dramatically, to the point that we may struggle to stand. Without normal auditory cues, we struggle with postural control. We lose our balance, we begin to sway - and, worst-case scenario, we fall. This is also why balance and fall prevention are so closely related.
But ear infections aren’t the only source of ear-and-hearing-related balance loss. Aging also decreases the function of our sensory systems. Less hearing means less balance - and as a result, society sees a higher risk of rate falls in the elderly. And more falls mean more chances for people to experience hip fractures.
Hearing Unlimited Can Help Protect You And Your Family
Auditory input is important for maintaining balance. Fortunately, interventions such as hearing aids can improve balance as well as auditory performance. Specifically, wearing hearing aids provides a significant improvement in balance and a decreased risk of falling among older adults with hearing loss. And by using hearing loss test results to treat hearing issues, we can reduce the risk of a fall. As a result, we can reduce the risk of a hip fracture affecting ourselves or our family members as they age.
At Hearing Unlimited, we want to address the underappreciated connection between hearing loss, falls, and hip fractures. If you or a family member are interested in learning more about utilizing our care services for these purposes, please reach out to us online or by phone today. Following your first contact, we can conduct a proper hearing loss test and begin to make recommendations for a personalized hearing loss treatment plan. We can also provide more information on the association between hearing loss, falls, and fractures, and help you work to avoid this serious hazard.