According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury every 11 seconds. A common reason for an increased risk of falling with age is balance issues. If you’re caring for a senior loved one, here are some of the top causes of balance-related problems in the elderly and some things you can do about each one.
1. Inner Ear Conditions
Various structures and fluids within the inner ear control and maintain balance. In some cases, seniors develop a temporary loss of stability because of inner ear infections or fluid imbalances. Ear-related sources of balance problems in older adults could also include:
• Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) – caused by an accumulation of debris in the inner ear
• Labyrinthitis – an inner ear infection
• Vestibular neuritis – an infection of an inner ear nerve
• Meniere’s disease – an inner ear disorder
Encourage your loved one to have regular hearing evaluations so inner ear issues can be detected and treated early. Also, watch for signs of ear-related discomfort that should be reason enough to have an examination.
2. Impaired Vision
Glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration are among the eye-related conditions that can affect vision later in life. Because the brain depends on images to navigate, impaired vision can contribute to difficulties with balance. If you’re noticing your loved one bumping into things or having difficulty getting around, encourage getting a thorough eye exam. Support devices like handrails in the home can be beneficial as well.
Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior home care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably.
3. Conditions Affecting Legs
The ability to balance well is largely dependent on leg movements, which can be affected by issues with nerves or circulation. Seniors with conditions like diabetes may have coordination and balance problems because of nerve damage affecting extremities or reduced circulation. Remind your loved one to be diligent about managing underlying health issues.
4. Muscle and/or Joint Issues
For some seniors, issues with arthritis and muscle deterioration can affect how joints and muscles function. The result could be balance difficulties. Help your loved one keep his or her joints and muscles healthy by encouraging regular exercise and healthy eating habits.
The National Institutes of Health cites various studies showing a link between Alzheimer’s, the most common type of dementia, and balance and gait issues, especially in the disease’s later stages. Also, vascular dementia, which is related to blood flow problems, can cause a sensation of movement known as vertigo that can affect balance. If your loved one has dementia and balance problems, careful observation can reduce fall risks.
Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional 24-hour care. Kingwood seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
6. Chronic Back Pain
For some seniors, balance issues can develop because of chronic back pain. One possible reason for this is because older adults may adjust how they stand or walk to avoid making back pain worse and become less stable in the process. Helping your loved one manage spine-related pain may allow for a gradual shift back to normal movement patterns.
7. Medication Side Effects
Certain medications can also cause balance issues for seniors. According to the National Institutes of Health, common culprits include antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and anti-seizure medications. Some over-the-counter meds can have similar effects. If you believe medication side effects may be affecting your loved one’s balance, talk to the doctor to see if adjustments can be made.
Balance issues, no matter what the cause, can make it difficult for seniors to safely handle the tasks of daily living. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care service. Kingwood families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at 832-412-1345.