Falls are a common occurrence in our daily lives: from wobbling as toddlers learning to walk, to the occasional stumble of kindergarten kids, and the scrapes and bruises of teenagers engaged in sports and play. However, as we age and our body's ability to recover diminishes, falls become more than just a passing inconvenience. Falls gradually transform into a dangerous situation that needs to be actively avoided.
As we enter the elderly phase of life, the decline in various bodily functions unavoidably increases the occurrence of such accidents. Falls become a significant factor limiting the activities of the elderly, decreasing their quality of life, and, in extreme cases, leading to mortality.
With our country transitioning into an aging society, it's foreseeable that challenges related to falls and associated injuries in the elderly will escalate. Therefore, it's essential for all of us to deepen our understanding of this issue.
Factors that may increase the risk of falls for the elderly in daily life are numerous: diminished balance perception functions such as vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual senses; malnutrition leading to reduced muscle and bone mass, slower reaction times, and weakened mobility; slippery living environments with inadequate lighting; adverse reactions like dizziness and drowsiness caused by medication for chronic diseases; sleep disorders or emotional disturbances; cognitive decline; ... What many people may not know is that the aging and degeneration of the ears can also contribute to an increased risk of falls!
Age-related Vestibular Disease?
The inner ear's vestibular system is responsible for perceiving the movement and posture of the human head, aiding in maintaining balance during motion and stabilizing vision. Due to genetic factors and the cumulative effects of harmful environmental factors (including but not limited to inflammation, vascular changes, infection, trauma, drugs, and noise), the number of hair cells in the vestibule of the inner ear gradually decreases in elderly individuals. This results in damage to the ear's otoliths and a reduction in vestibular nerve cells, leading to a decline in the elderly's perception of movement and balance. Studies show that nearly 50% of individuals over the age of 60 may experience varying degrees of vestibular dysfunction.
How to know if you have this condition?
Unlike other vestibular disorders, the primary symptoms of age-related vestibular disease are not dizziness but rather chronic feelings of lightheadedness, unsteady posture, gait disturbances, and recurrent falls. These symptoms persist over time. Medical examinations can reveal a mild reduction in bilateral vestibular function (as seen in previously discussed tests like head-shaking and temperature tests), with no evidence of other diseases that could cause chronic balance disorders.
Vestibular function is degrading, what should be done?
Now that we understand this condition and the risks of falling, what can be done? Is there no effective treatment for problems caused by aging? The good news is that extensive research indicates that professional vestibular rehabilitation training can effectively improve symptoms and reduce the risk of adverse events such as falls.
Simultaneously, for the elderly and patients with weakened balance functions due to various diseases, there are generally applicable methods to prevent falls:
Choose non-slip shoes and socks.
Engage in appropriate exercise based on individual conditions to improve muscle strength, bone mass, coordination, and flexibility, reducing the risk of falls and fractures after falling. Patients with related diseases should exercise under the guidance of a rehabilitation therapist.
Use non-slip flooring at home, install anti-slip strips on stairs, and avoid prominent thresholds. If using carpets, securely fix them to the floor, ensure they are non-slip, of suitable thickness (to avoid tripping), and not too fluffy. Promptly clean up water or oil spills on the floor. Avoid obstacles such as wires in pathways.
Install handrails in the bathroom (especially near the toilet), use non-slip mats, and consider a shower chair.
Use walking aids such as canes or walkers correctly.
Ensure appropriate lighting at home, avoiding excessive brightness or darkness. Install night lights in bedrooms and hallways.
Remember, Chosgo hearing aids, especially the SmartU Rechargeable Hearing Aids, can significantly contribute to improving the quality of life for the elderly by addressing age-related hearing issues. Explore our range of Chosgo hearing aids at Chosgo Hearing. For specific products like the SmartU Rechargeable Hearing Aids, check them out here.