Aging at Home Senior Health

Understanding Balance Problems in Seniors

Understanding Balance Problems in Seniors

Balance Problems in Seniors

Balance problems are one of the most common reasons that seniors fall and get injured.

If you’ve ever felt dizzy, lightheaded, or like the room is spinning around, you know how unsteady you can feel. There are varying levels of “dizziness” – from a slight feeling to an intense spinning that can last a long time and can be quite debilitating.  Balance Problems in Seniors

Many Seniors experience these same problems and they can become more dangerous as you age!

Falls and related injuries, like a hip fracture, can seriously impact how seniors live their lives. And, they are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among older adults.

Balance Problems in Seniors
 ” … (over) one-third of adults ages 65 years & older fall each year.
Among older adults,
falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths.”
~The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1

Balance Problems in Seniors

Most of us take Good Balance for granted — 

it helps you to bend over, climb stairs, reach for things, walk, and get up from a chair or bed without falling. It means that you can live your life independently, move around easily, and go about your daily activities as you please.

Sadly, most of us are more likely to have problems with balance as we age.

 ”  About 25% of older adults…
report difficulty with balance, or require the assistance of another person or special equipment to walk.
These numbers increase significantly after age 75
… almost 40% of older adults are affected by balance problems.
In adults over age 65, balance problems are closely linked to falls.
Balance Problems – HealthinAging.org2
Let’s Take A Closer Look!
What Causes Balance Problems

Many Balance Problems start quite suddenly and without an obvious cause. These issues can seriously affect our ability to perform daily activities safely and can cause fatigue and depression.

Possible causes can include a problem in the:

    • Inner ear – Vertigo, BPPV or Labyrinthitis
    • The Brain, Head injury, or Hear
    • Medications
    • Low Blood pressure, low iron or low blood sugar
    • Skeletal or Visual issues
    • Neurological conditions
    • Ménière’s Disease
Symptoms of Balance Problems

May include:

    • Dizziness, staggering when you walk, or vertigo
    • Falling or feeling like you are going to fall
    • Blurred vision
    • Disorientation or confusion
    • Faintness, a floating sensation, or lightheadedness
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Anxiety, panic and fear
Types of Balance Disorders
  • BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo)

Usually occurs in seniors aged 60+, and can occur in younger people. The small calcium particles in our inner ear become displaced and disrupt inner ear balance, causing dizziness. The reason for BPPV is unknown. The causes may be an inner ear infection, head injury, or aging.

  • Labyrinthitis

An inner ear infection or inflammation that causes dizziness and loss of balance – it is often associated with upper respiratory infection, such as the flu.

  • Meniere’s Disease:

A balance disorder that changes the fluid volume in our inner ear. It can cause us to experience vertigo, hearing loss that comes and goes, tinnitus, and a feeling of fullness in our ear. It affects adults of any age and the cause is unknown.

  • Issues with Brain, Heart, Low Blood Pressure

Some balance disorders may involve our brain or heart. A stroke, or a head injury, can cause us to feel dizzy and create balance problems. Low blood pressure can also cause dizziness.

  • Medications

Some medicines, like those that help lower blood pressure, can make us feel dizzy or disoriented. Some can even damage our inner ear – If your medicine is ‘ototoxic’, you may feel off-balance. Check with your doctor if you notice a Balance Problem while taking any medication.

Ask Yourself – Do I have a balance problem?  

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms.

    • Do I feel unsteady?
    • Do I feel as if the room is spinning around me, even only for brief periods of time?
    • Do I feel like I’m moving when I know I’m standing or sitting still?
    • Do I lose my balance and fall?
    • Do I feel as if I’m falling?
    • Do I feel lightheaded, or as if I might faint?
    • Does my vision become blurred?
    • Do I ever feel disoriented, losing my sense of time, place, or identity?
Make an Appointment with your Doctor

If you are experiencing Balance Problems — It is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Balance Issues can be a sign of other health problems; an ear infection or a stroke or can cause a serious fall and injury.

You may be referred to a specialist for a diagnosis of your symptoms and your doctor may order the following: hearing test, blood tests, imaging of your head and/or brain, eye tests and more.

In some cases, the treatment of your illness will help with the Balance Problem. And, sometimes exercises, a change in diet, and some medicines also can help alleviate the issue.

Remember to stop by or touch base —
Let those you love FEEL how important they really are.

For More Information:

1Center for Disease Control 

Balance Problems –

Source: National Institutes of Health – NIH: National Institute on Deafness

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