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Handbook for successful ageing - 9.3.4 - 9.3.5


9.3.4 Hardness of hearing

The best way to preserve your ability to hear is by protecting yourself from noise, to wear an ear protection at work and to to listen to loud music too long.

- Do you have trouble hearing people with particularly low or loud voices in a restaurant packed with people (Party effect), or do you have trouble understanding someone who has their back to you,

- Are you not able to understand something that others in a group did understand

- Do you find the speaking of other persons loud enough but not really clear or do you feel that others mumble,

- Do you often have to ask the persons you are talking to to repeat something,

- Is it difficult for you to follow the conversation in a big group,

- Do you have trouble understanding everything when you are on the phone,

- Do you sit as far at the front as possible at speeches, in the cinema or in the theatre,

- Do loud sounds disturb you more often than they used to but do you fail to hear the door bell or the telephone on the other hand,

- As a pedestrian, do approaching vehicles sometimes scare you,

- Do you feel like less and less birds are singing in the garden or in the forest, or

- Has someone told you that you turn on the TV or the radio very loud?

If yes, consult an ear specialist and wear the hearing aid prescribed for you if essential. An early provision with hearing aids is important, not only to support the hearing but also to train the processing of what has been heard in the brain. I say this because a lot of people do not use it. But using it, after some practice, is just as easy as using eye glasses. You will be as embarrassed with your hearing aid as you are with your eye glasses! There are hearing aids which are placed in the auditory canal and are almost invisible, but the operation of these is much more difficult than the one of devices which are placed behind the ear.

If you already have a hardness of hearing, hearing aids will protect you from loneliness, as the frequency and intensity of social contact will decline. Furthermore, your brain is much less stimulated than it should be (see above, 5.3).

In case of an acute hearing loss, you should visit a hospital at the earliest (refer to the article about "sudden hearing loss" on ). Afterwards you should have your stroke risk checked, as a sudden deafness can be a sign for it.

In order to avoid becoming deaf, avoid loud noise and continuous exposure to noise, such as that in the discotheque. Also, do not smoke or drink excessively. Some antibiotics and draining tools (fittings for draining) can likewise damage hearing, the same is true for Aspirin, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, especially when you take them before you are 60. On the other hand, people who take part in sports hear a lot better.

9.3.5 Danger of falling down

At old age we have in general a higher risk of falling than when we were younger. At this point what I have written in section 1.9.2 about calcium and vitamin D is therefore especially important.

Do you sometimes feel dizzy or did you have a fall without any apparent reason? Your family doctor will first prescribe you some medicine. If this does not help (which will be apparent in a few weeks), it is essential that you have yourselves examined by an ENT specialist, or, if this doctor can’t find the cause, by a neurologist, looking for polyneuropathy in the feet. This can also be caused by diabetes or the abuse of alcohol. But there are also idiopathic neuropathies, i.e. neuropathies of which the cause is not yet know, and with which you will therefore have to live. In this case it can be recommendable to have yourself examined again after a longer period of time, in order to see if your neurologist can find a cause that can be treated now.

As a preventive measure, ask your family doctor to prescribe you a hipbone protector from a sanitary suplly and a medical alert system (refer to 9.3.1 and 2), even if you have to bear the costs for this yourself.

Maybe there will be airbag-trousers someday which inflate when contacts underneath your feet indicate that you are about to fall. Check every now and then, just in case.

Examine how your behaviour and your environment can change in order to exclude factors responsible for falls and ask your family doctor as to what you can do further in order to minimize your risk of collapsing. Buy a wireless telephone that you can carry with you at any time if you do not have one yet, so that you do not have to hurry to the telephone and fall down. Furthermore, you should do your exercise on a place on the floor where you can hold on to a fixed object, for example a table, when you get up.

If there is black ice you shouldn’t leave the house but ask others to go shopping for you, ask the pharmacy staff to deliver you the things you need and ask your doctor to come to see you.

Hold on to the banister or to someone’s arm when climbing up stairs and bend forwards. If you are at a public event, dare to ask strangers to help you. You can also hold on to door-frames, the edges of tables and closets, radiators and their knobs, window-sills and washbasins. You can at least support yourself with walls, as well as closed closet and room doors. But be careful when holding on to door-knobs. All this is particularly important when you need to go to the toilet at night and are more or less sleepy. When you put on or take off trousers or a skirt, then you should lean against a bed or a window-sill.

You should now buy a bathtub or shower tub mat at the latest, and have handholds installed wherever it supports your safety. When reserving a hotel room you should point out that you need such a mat there, too.

If you are at risk of collapsing, practise those exercises under 3.3.2, no. 23., 25. and 26., do knee-bends, endurance run and vertical getting up in the morning and in the evening in addition to your current exercises; this will strengthen your leg muscles, and check if you should not at least purchase Galileo Basic™ (see above, 3.1) now.

If you are at the risk of falling in a particular direction, try to lean towards the opposite direction using your arms or legs, if you are in danger of falling over backwards, bend forwards. You should be so accustomed to all these countermeasures that you don’t have to think about them but execute them in a reflex and therefore like lightning/ as fast as lightning.

If you experience the falling sensation, switch to a squatting position and support yourself with your hands. Try this a few times. This will help you overcome the fear of such a possible fall. This is important, for if you fall onto the side, you are likely to break your Collum femoris. If you fall backwards, your head could hit the ground, a wall, a heating fillet or furniture. When walking bend your torso slightly forwards so that at least you don’t fall backwards, because then you will automatically try to support yourself and could break your wrist.

Take long steps when you have no support, possibly walk. somewhat broad-legged, bend your head forwards and hold your arms up to the front higher than you used to.

Measure your blood pressure if you feel particularly unsure and if it is too low, take medication for improved blood circulation. When kneeling down and getting back up, hold on to a piece of furniture. If you feel that you are very much in danger of falling down, have grab rails attached to the walls and in the bathroom, or have yourself a walking frame prescribed (see below, 9.4). If you are blind you have 3 options:

- attach soft materials to your walking frame at those places where you could bump on furniture;

- don’t push your walking frame in front of you but walk backwards


- turn your back towards your walking frame and walk forward.

Especially at night when you have to go to the toilet sleepily you should use it. It should therefore be at a spot in your bedroom which you can reach from your bed, where you can always hold on to something or support yourself. If you can only use the walking frame in the flat, try to get a daintier one made from wood from your insurance (see below, 9.4).

Sedatives can reduce the ability to pay attention or concentrate. Sleeping pills and other psychiatric drugs affect the ability to react and movement coordination, and in elderly people, they therefore mainly increase the danger of collapsing.

Getting up from your bed, look for a hold if necessary and stand still for a moment.

If you -almost- fell once, try to avoid the situation in which it happened.

See if there are tripping hazards in your flat, like the edges of rugs or thresholds. Mark thresholds with coloured adhesive tape. Be especially careful if your sight is restricted from down below due to cataract.

If you are at the risk of falling, you should ensure that you are at the upper limit of the normal weight (refer to 2.1.4), rather than at the lower level, in order to avoid catching a lung infection when lying helplessly following a fall and you should always carry the signal transmitter of an in-house emergency call on your neck (see above, the amendment in sections 9.1 and 9.2).





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