Balancing Issues in Older Adults

old age care

Balance problems are the most common reasons that older adults seek help from the doctors. At some point in your life, you must have lost balance. Maybe as a child, you weren’t paying attention to where you were going, or you tripped over something as an adult. But as you age, balance issues are more common, but what do these issues mean for you, how can you address them? They are often caused by disturbances of the inner ear.


As one ages, the way of walking changes. Not having a proper stride while walking can cause imbalance. Losing balance is often followed by a range of other symptoms. But age is not the only reason that these problems occur. Some balance disorders are caused by problems in the inner ear. The part of the inner ear that is responsible for balance is the vestibular system, also known as labyrinth. A condition called labyrinthitis occurs when the labyrinth becomes infected or swollen. It is typically accompanied by vertigo and imbalance. Upper respiratory infections, other viral infections, and, less commonly, bacterial infections can also lead to labyrinthitis. Some diseases of the circulatory system, such as stroke, can cause dizziness and other balance problems. Low blood pressure can also cause dizziness. Head injury and many medicines may also lead to balance problems. Diabetes can also cause difficulties due to nerve damage or loss of blood circulation. 


  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Falling or feeling as if one is going to fall
  • Lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea; changes in the heart rate and blood pressure; fear and anxiety or panic. 


Some people with balancing problems may not be able to fully relieve their dizziness and will need ways to cope with it. A vestibular rehabilitation therapist can help to develop a treatment plan. One should consult the doctor first, and ask about whether it is safe to drive, and the ways to lower the risk of falling during daily activities, such as walking up or downstairs, using the bathroom or exercising. To reduce injury from dizziness, avoid walking in the dark. Wear low heeled shoes, if necessary use a cane or walker, and modify conditions at your home and workplace, such as y using handrails, etc. 

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