Your senior’s hearing is far more important than she might realize. In fact, any damaged hearing may make her more likely to lose her balance. Researchers have determined that this happens because the brain gets overloaded by trying harder to process sounds, so it spends less processing time on balance and walking. But there are other factors at play, too.
Your Senior’s Brain Is Already Doing a Lot
People tend to think of ears and ear function as really all that there is to hearing. So it’s sometimes a shock to realize that the brain is what is actually hearing. The ears are just collecting the vibrations that make up the sounds. Your senior’s brain interprets those vibrations. When your senior is in a noisy area or her hearing is overwhelmed, her brain can get overwhelmed, too, which can lead to mistakes like tripping or not noticing objects around her.
Balance and the Inner Ear
Your senior’s inner ear is where her brain gets the information about her position and whether she’s right side up or upside down. It’s also where her brain gets other bits of information about how she’s moving and whether she might be at risk of falling. With damage to the inner ear, her brain doesn’t have that source of information or the information isn’t as reliable. That can lead to an increase in falls.
Sounds Can Alert Your Senior to Danger
Sounds also make your elderly family member aware of what’s going on around her. When she’s not able to hear those sounds, she may not realize that a car just rushed past her or that there are bicyclists heading her way. If your aging family member seems to be startled often, she may be experiencing hearing loss that she doesn’t realize is happening just yet.
Being Unaware Leads to Other Problems, Too
Being a little less aware of her surroundings can give your senior a host of other problems, too. Her brain can have trouble “placing” her in her environment. So she may be running into objects more often or she might simply appear really clumsy in general. These are all situations that can create potential injuries for her and that’s something you want to avoid whenever possible.
If your elderly family member is experiencing hearing issues, it’s a good idea to have her hearing tested to see what sort of loss she’s already had. It’s also a good idea to make sure she’s got some extra help with her wherever she goes. Elderly care providers can help her to stay aware of her surroundings so that she’s less likely to suffer a fall.