As we age, problems with digestion, taste, memory and even equilibrium are frequent. Balance issues are the top reason for visits to the doctor among the elderly.
Changes in the aging body, medications, health concerns and environmental hazards all contribute to the inability of seniors to maintain their balance. Several methods, including physical activity, eyesight correction, and preventative measures, can assist the elderly in coping with balance concerns.
It is normal to feel concerned when you or a loved one struggles to maintain equilibrium. Some seniors choose less active lifestyles out of fear of falling, which can affect their health and happiness. However, a reduction in strength, flexibility, stamina, and balance is the first indication of a sedentary lifestyle, which can progress to more health issues.
It is never too late to work toward a more balanced lifestyle; in addition to working with your doctor and physical therapist, a more supportive living environment, such as an assisted living facility, maybe the key to overcoming your fear of losing your balance.
Reasons why senior citizens have difficulty maintaining their balance
The first step in resolving balance concerns is to identify their causes. Although the causes of balance issues vary from person to person, many individuals over 65 report difficulty with it. Lightheadedness is a typical sign of cardiovascular illnesses, including diabetes and stroke, which are more prevalent among the elderly and can lead to various balance issues. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other breathing problems can significantly hinder a person’s ability to maintain balance while rising from a seated or sleeping position. However, balancing issues are not exclusive to persons with a medical condition.
Here are some of the most common reasons why people have difficulty maintaining their equilibrium:
- Adverse Medication Reactions
Both prescription and over-the-counter medications are intended to reduce the pain associated with specific disorders. There could be unanticipated repercussions, such as a loss of equilibrium.
Antihypertensive medications are a significant contributor to the wobbliness of the elderly. You should continue taking them, but you should discuss your balance concerns with your doctor and pharmacist. If you feel off-balance, try a new medication.
- Problems with the eyesight
Vision impairment can also affect a person’s ability to maintain balance. The fact that many older individuals already struggle to see well can make it more difficult for them to keep their equilibrium at home. Age-related disorders such as cataracts and macular degeneration can make the elderly feel unsteady on their feet, increasing their risk of falling.
- Constant Illnesses
Learning to manage daily life with a chronic illness is crucial to coping with this condition. Numerous seniors have an increased risk of falling due to chronic conditions that can make maintaining balance harder. For instance, according to the American Diabetes Association, low blood sugar levels can cause dizziness and balance problems in elderly diabetics. Other chronic diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease, have been associated with the inability to maintain balance and an increased risk of falling.
- Due to aging age, hearing impairment develops.
It may surprise many who only equate hearing loss with vertigo since the National Institute on Aging has discovered that many elderly suffer from inner ear difficulties that might result in balance problems. Because the inner ear controls the body’s balance system, any infection or condition affecting the inner ear can seriously impair a person’s feeling of equilibrium and stability. Individuals with hearing impairment are at a greater risk of falling. When the inner ear becomes infected and inflamed, a condition known as labyrinthitis can develop, making it difficult to maintain balance. Labyrinthitis is an internal ear inflammation that frequently follows a flu infection.
- Mild positional dizziness without motion (BPPV)
According to the National Institutes of Health, BPPV is among the most prevalent balance disorders (NIH). Unlikely that many individuals are familiar with it. Its primary symptom is acute vertigo when the head is moved. Thus older individuals should be on the watch for it. Even if you’re turning over in bed, this may occur. Several reasons, including ear infections, head trauma, and aging, may cause this inner-ear condition.
Balance Disorder Signs and Symptoms
If a change in balance develops gradually over time, you or a loved one might not notice it immediately. If you have or begin to experience any of the following symptoms, you should arrange an appointment with a doctor to evaluate the reason for your balance issues. The physician can then take precautions to reduce the likelihood of a fall.
Balance difficulties can emerge in numerous ways.
- Diaphoresis upon standing from a sitting or lying position.
- When standing for too long, one may feel dizzy or as though the room is spinning.
- Feel weak or dizzy.
- Experiencing a state of weightlessness anytime visual issues such as haziness or the presence of “floaters” are present.
- Infuriated by perplexity or disorientation, standing or walking becomes unbalanced.
- I have to sit down or rise from a lying position swiftly.
Managing a Balance Disorder
The good news is that seniors with balance issues can avoid damage and retain their quality of life. Find the appropriate therapy course by working with your physician and physical therapist. The last phase is considering how your environment and lifestyle may be improved to complement your plan.
The Treatment of Illnesses Causing Vertigo and Other Balance Problems
Recognizing the cause of the imbalance is the first step in correcting it. Consult your physician to rule out any prior disorders or drugs as probable causes of your balance issues. Your physician may propose a battery of tests and provide a formal medical diagnosis, depending on the severity of your symptoms. After identifying the problem, a solution can be developed.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle by incorporating balance exercises into your everyday routine.
Now that you know what’s causing the issue and are taking medical action to resolve it, you may focus on other methods for keeping a healthy balance. Talk to your physical therapist about the daily activities you can perform on your own or in a group. Balance training is a typical component of exercise programs for senior citizens. In a risk-free environment, balance training can aid in developing self-assurance and a sense of mastery over daily tasks.
Here are some examples of exercises:
Get your doctor’s approval before beginning a new exercise regimen. This is of utmost relevance if you have a preexisting medical condition or were just discharged from the hospital.
Stability on One Foot
Stand on one foot and raise the opposite knee 45 degrees to demonstrate. Attempt to hold this posture for 10 seconds. Ten repetitions, then move to the opposite leg.
Walking On Your Heels
Ten paces forward, place the heel of one foot on the toe of the other.
Left footstep to the side, followed by right footstep to meet left. Cross-stepping can be learned with time and effort. To execute a cross-step, cross the left foot over the right foot, followed by the right foot over the left foot.
Standing Without Support
Lift yourself without using your arms from a chair.
This sequence of physical and mental exercises, often known as “movement meditation,” focuses on your agility, balance, and cardiovascular health.
As you get out of bed, you should pump your ankles
Sit on the edge of the bed for a few minutes before getting up and pumping your ankles if you experience dizziness or lightheadedness when you first stand up from bed (start by pulling your toes up towards the ceiling and then point your toes down).
Modifications should be made to the home to reduce barriers and incorporate assistive technologies.
Changing your environment to accommodate your balance needs is yet another method for boosting self-assurance and overall enjoyment. Ensure that the environment poses no risk to you or a loved one who has difficulty keeping balance. Installing grab bars in the bathroom and shower, illuminating shady areas of the house, and installing nightlights can make nighttime excursions to the restroom safer. Physical therapists can provide individualized guidance, so be open to seeking their assistance.
Adults with mobility or balance issues will discover a supportive environment in an assisted living facility. From the carpets to the bathroom fixtures, helped living facilities are intended to maximize safety and individuality for each resident. Moving to an assisted living facility could be the solution for you or a loved one who has difficulty feeling safe at home owing to balance issues.