What Causes Balance Issues in Older Adults?

According to the National Institute on Aging, balance problems in older adults is a common side effect of aging. Some balance problems can be reduced, but many start suddenly and without apparent cause. However, there are some causes of poor balance in seniors that can be identified and potentially avoided.

While some causes are unavoidable or unclear, there are also some that can be prevented. Read on to learn all about what causes balance problems in older adults and how you can help your loved ones cope.

What Causes Balance Problems in Older Adults?

1. Medication Side Effects

One of the most common causes of poor balance in seniors is the medication they’re taking. There are some drugs that seniors use frequently that can have an adverse effect on their ability to balance properly.

Similar effects are noticeable in patients using antidepressants, sedatives, some anticancer medications, and even some anti-anxiety medications. If you’re wondering what causes balance issues in older adults, talk to your doctor or your loved one’s doctor to understand the effects of the medication and talk about adjusting those medications. 

You can also ask about alternatives if you believe medication is the root cause of the balance problems. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about appropriate modifications or alternatives if you believe a medication’s side effects may be impairing their ability to maintain balance.

2. Vision Problems

Age causes a lot of problems for a person, including a lot of visual issues. Cataracts and other age-related macular degenerations are unfortunately common in seniors. All of these illnesses or health impairments can make proper balance incredibly difficult to maintain.

Not only that, but age can weaken the eye muscles. Even if your senior isn’t dealing with any serious eye degenerative diseases, they could be dealing with eye fatigue. This can quickly lead to balance problems for an older adult. If you think this might be the case, encourage your loved one to get the eye help they need. Help them see a specialist who can perform an eye exam to help them get properly treated.

3. Meniere’s Disease

There are some diseases that cause balance problems in older adults, such as Meniere’s disease, which is an inner ear condition that can cause fullness in the ears and dizziness. This illness not only causes dizziness but can lead to vertigo and even hearing loss in seniors. A low-sodium diet, medication, and balance exercises may all be used to medicate this condition.

As a person ages, it’s important to pay close attention to their health and well-being. It’s normal for a number of difficulties to occur. Proper attention, assistance, and care can help keep a senior safe when they’re dealing with any type of health issue or disease that’s causing balance problems. In some cases, home care assistance may be the best, most comfortable place for a senior dealing with these struggles. 

4. Chronic Conditions

There are many chronic health conditions that can lead to balance problems in older adults. There is a unique connection between balance issues and diabetes, heart conditions, arthritis, as well as vestibular dysfunction, and many other problems with the inner ear system.

Long-term medical conditions that affect the central nervous system — such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis — can also cause balance issues in older adults. Such challenges could be lessened by helping your loved one manage chronic health issues successfully with proper care and medication.

Seniors with serious health problems could find it challenging to age in place, but there’s no arguing with the fact that seniors can continue to live more comfortable, safe lives with the help of skilled, round-the-clock care. If your loved one is dealing with serious balance issues due to a chronic illness, reach out to New Perspective to talk about our home care options and get help finding the perfect community.

5. Labyrinthitis

Balance can be directly impacted by labyrinthitis, which is a kind of inner ear infection. With this infection, inflammation impairs the flow of nerve signals from the ear to the brain, causing balance issues to occur. Because this infection is linked to the flu which older persons are more likely to contract, it’s common among seniors. 

Blood and hearing tests are frequently used to diagnose labyrinthitis but proper medication and medical efforts can be used to slow down infection and treat the condition. If a senior recently had the flu and is showing signs of balance issues, consider getting them checked for an ear infection.

Tips to Prevent Balance Issues in Older Adults

Though you can’t control every variable that causes balance issues, there are some ways you can potentially prevent them or reduce their impact. Please note: it’s important to talk to a doctor before starting any new exercise or balance program.

  1. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can improve balance, coordination, and strength.
  2. Work on balance exercises: Specific exercises like tai chi, yoga, and balance exercises can help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls.
  3. Wear supportive shoes: Wear shoes that have good arch support, a non-slip sole, and a low heel to help maintain stability.
  4. Remove tripping hazards: Keep walkways clear of cords, loose rugs, and other tripping hazards.
  5. Improve lighting: Make sure rooms are well-lit and use night lights in the bathroom and hallway to help prevent falls.
  6. Use assistive devices: Canes, walkers, and other assistive devices can provide support and improve balance.
  7. Review medications: Some medications can cause dizziness or impair balance. Discuss with a doctor to see if any changes can be made.
  8. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can cause dizziness, so it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  9. Keep a healthy diet: A diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help improve balance and overall health.

Comfortable, Safe Living for Older Adults

Balance problems in older adults can impact their lives (and yours) daily. You can’t always be there to prevent a loved one from falling due to balance issues. That’s why many families find peace of mind in New Perspective’s living communities. 

We offer assisted living in a way that enables our residents to maintain their independence — not infringe on it. Reach out to us today to discuss your needs and learn more about how we can help manage the causes of poor balance in seniors.