Michelle Rupp: Joining me now is Dr. Mary Shuttling from pinnacle hearing and Dr. Mary, thank you first of all for coming in.

Dr. Mary Chatelain: Yes. thanks for having me.

MR: So, we wanted to talk today about the correlation between hearing loss and fall risks. So, my first question is there a correlation between hearing loss and falling?

MC: Yes, there is. So, most people don’t realize that the inner ear it not only controls hearing, but it also controls balance. So, as we age, both of those systems are going to be impacted your hearing and your balance. It’s really interesting because when someone goes from normal hearing to mild hearing loss, which is about a 25-decibel difference, they are three times more likely to have a fall.

MR: Oh wow. Three times more likely just by losing a little bit of hearing.

MC: Yes. Yes, So it’s really important to have that baseline audio to get your hearing checked to determine, okay, do I have a hearing loss even if you don’t really think there’s an issue and other people are saying, hey, I feel like I’m having to repeat myself a lot, you know, not just for hearing but also for your balance, it’s important to have that check done.

MR: And so that check I guess is just another way to mitigate that risk. Because nobody wants to fall.

MC: Yes. Yes. And so definitely having your hearing and your vision checked is really important and also treating those issues if there is a hearing loss, if there is a vision impairment. Not only do you want to get it checked and see exactly what the diagnosis is, but you also want to seek treatment. So, whether that is glasses, whether that’s hearing aids, you want to have that treatment. That is one way to prevent falls. So, the second thing is going to be exercise. So, balance and also just building your core strength whenever you are about to fall and you have those muscles built up, you’re going to be more likely to control your body and not fall. So also, just the balance training with yoga, you know, different water activities, you can do that, but also the strength training, getting your steps in our bodies were made to move, we’re supposed to get around 10,000 steps a day. So, the more that you move, the better you’re going to do in environments where you might get off balance and the other thing is going to be to modify your environment. So small dogs, big dogs are big cause of falls in our patients. Also, grandparents visiting their grandkids and there’s toys on the floor. You want to make sure that you really minimize the trip hazards in your environment. Also, the patients are most likely to fall in the bathroom, that’s where a lot of balls happen.

MR: And is it because it’s so slippery?

MC: Yes, and you know, just your wet, you may be bending over putting a towel on but most falls happen in the bathroom also, you know, you think of bathtubs and standing up sitting down. That that’s also going to throw you off balance sometimes. So, in those environments like the bathroom making sure you have appropriate rugs, handles, bars, anything that you need as you age, those things are going to prevent you from falling.

MR: Okay So if we notice or have someone in our in our life and maybe they are a little off balance or have fallen and didn’t make the connection. I wonder if this has anything to do with hearing. How often should we be getting our hearing checked and to prevent a problem.

MC: So, we definitely recommend if you’re over the age of 50, get your baseline audio, even your you know and that’s an audio Graham, that’s a hearing test. Even if you feel like there’s not a hearing issue, get that done now once there is hearing loss is established, we recommend that if treatment is recommended you move forward with treatment after we diagnose the hearing loss depending on if there are any additional issues coming up. We could be doing a hearing test every year. It could be every 2 to 3 years. But once you get your hearing tested it shouldn’t and you have a hearing loss. You shouldn’t say well oh I got that done 10 years ago, I’m good we’re going to do it consistently. So, you know I just really caution when it comes to falls, 84% of patients. Once they fall. That is like a downward spiral of, that’s when assisted living starts nursing homes that’s when you lose your independence. Because falls can in the geriatric population can cause seriously bodily harm. It’s not always something that is life threatening but typically when there’s a fall and you’re looking at paralysis happening, you’re looking at a hip replacement, a head injury. That is when you’re going to have additional health issues. That’s when you start to lose independence. That’s when things can go downhill really quick. A hearing evaluation is something really easy hearing aid treatment. That is really easy thing to do. Get your vision checked. These normal things we kind of take for granted. It’s so important to do those things to prevent major issues as you age.

MR: And that’s all something that I know I would never think of that just by getting those simple things. Hearing checked vision check that can that’s your pre maintenance you know to keep you from really potentially getting into a lot of trouble later on down the road.

MC: Yes. Yes. And one really cool thing about our newer hearing aid technology is it has what we call fall risk detection. So, it’s basically a fall detection. So if you do fall and you’ve got your hearing aids in there’s actually an alert that is in the hearing aids that can send a GPS signal to your family members. So that way okay if something happens your family’s aware. It’s an immediate notification. Like an S. O. S. And that is something that can really help our independent parents that are still living on their own that maybe aren’t in assisted living.

MR: And every second counts. Time is always of the essence. So, the child the adult child gets that alert. They can call 911 and get things happening much faster.

MC: Definitely. And I told you earlier you know your fall risk is going to increase once you go from normal to mild hearing. It increases three times. So, for every 10 db additional hearing loss you have passed the mild hearing loss. Your risk is going to increase even more. So, it’s really important to seek treatment. Do something about that. You know this is something in control and who wants to wear hearing aids. Most people don’t they’re concerned about how they look but I mean who wants to have surgery? Who wants to be in a wheelchair? Who wants to not have the ability to take care of themselves. This is an easy thing that can be corrected.

MR: Fantastic. Okay Dr. Mary Chatelaine thank you so much for coming in today and letting us know.

MC: Awesome. Thanks for having me.

MR: And thank you so much for joining us. We’ll see you back here next week for more AFMC TV.