Aging & Caregiving in the News

Information, updates and interesting tidbits

In this issue:

  • Why hearing loss raises the risk of falls
  • Diabetes and the coronavirus
  • Telecommuting? How are your eyes?

Senior woman getting ear exam

New Insights Into Hearing Loss and Fall Risk

It's long been known that vision loss raises the risk of falls. Studies show that hearing problems, too, can make it more likely that we will sustain a fall. One reason is that when our brains must focus intensely on understanding speech and other sounds, this distracts us and makes us less likely to notice a hazard that could trip us up. Sound also provides clues about the environment we're in.

A March 2020 study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital showed that our balance mechanism works better in an environment where there is background noise, rather than in total silence. "This review highlights the importance of hearing for our sense of balance," said Associate Professor of Otolaryngology Dr. Maura Cosetti, MD. "And because hearing loss is treatable, getting hearing checked is a crucial first step." Read more about the study here.

People With Diabetes at Higher Risk of Serious COVID-19 Complications

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, the American Heart Association (AHA) warned that older adults and people with heart and lung disease were at higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death if infected. Now, the association is noting that people with diabetes, too, are more likely to be hospitalized, and are more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit—in fact, 32% of patients in the ICU have diabetes!

"The reasons are complicated," reports the AHA. "In people with Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance gives rise to chronic, low-grade inflammation, leaving the immune system dulled by this ongoing state of alert. New infections are like 'crying wolf'—the immune system does not rally quickly and adequately, therefore allowing the virus to gain and maintain a foothold." Doctors say managing diabetes is very important at this time, as is prompt reporting of possible symptoms of COVID-19 illness. Read more about the study here.

Telecommuting During COVID-19? How Are Your Eyes?

Here's some information for our readers who are telecommuting during the coronavirus pandemic. Can you damage your eyes from staring at a computer screen all day? Fortunately, no, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). But you can experience some discomfort if you don't give your eyes a break. Digital eyestrain is pretty common among those of us who work all day looking at a computer monitor, and then unwind by surfing the web or gaming during our off hours. Symptoms include blurry vision, and eyes that are uncomfortable and tired. AAO experts offer suggestions for improving the situation:

  • Remember to blink your eyes often.
  • Use artificial tears if your eyes feel dry.
  • Every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to an object 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
  • Adjust your computer screen so it's not too bright, and reduce glare.
  • Sit about 25 inches from your monitor, looking slightly down.

Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2020 IlluminAge