When the vestibular system is damaged by any cause, an individual may experience dizziness and balance problems. However, the gradual, age-related loss of vestibular nerve endings can result in severe balance problems without any associated dizziness.
Long-term medical condition that affects the nervous system can have an impact on balance, too. Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis are just a few. In addition, arthritis, heart problems, and certain medications seniors take for chronic illnesses can all contribute to unsteadiness.
When to see a doctor for balance problems If something seems off with your balance, it’s wise to see a doctor to investigate possible suspects, Dr. Honaker says. Inner ear problems are often to blame, so definitely mention symptoms such as changes in hearing, ringing or a feeling of fullness in the ears.
If you have a balance disorder, you may stagger when you try to walk, or teeter or fall when you try to stand up. You might experience other symptoms such as: Dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation) Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall.
Losing your balance while walking, or feeling imbalanced, can result from: Vestibular problems. Abnormalities in your inner ear can cause a sensation of a floating or heavy head and unsteadiness in the dark. Nerve damage to your legs (peripheral neuropathy).
Read on to find 14 exercises seniors can do to improve their balance.
Walking helps build lower-body strength, an important element of good balance. Walking is safe exercise for most people and, in addition to improving balance, counts toward your aerobic activity goals.
Causes of Balance Disorders
How Is Waddling Gait Treated?
The more common causes of dizziness and unsteady gait in old age are sensory deficits, such as bilateral vestibular failure, polyneuropathy, and impaired visual acuity; benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo; and central disorders such as cerebellar ataxia and normal-pressure hydrocephalus.
Medications Can Cause Balance Problems
Your treatment may include:
Vestibular dysfunction is most commonly caused by head injury, aging, and viral infection. Other illnesses, as well as genetic and environmental factors, may also cause or contribute to vestibular disorders. Disequilibrium: Unsteadiness, imbalance, or loss of equilibrium; often accompanied by spatial disorientation.