There are a number of issues that can cause balance issues in the elderly which can increase the risk of a serious fall. As people age, they often become more frail but what are the signs to watch for that may indicate a balance problem?
To maintain proper balance, the body’s muscles, joints, bones, eyes, nerves, heart and blood systems, as well as the balance organ located in the inner ear, must all work together. Some medical conditions can also cause balance problems but many balance issues are the result of a problem in the inner ear. Weakening muscles can also cause poor balance.
If you or your aging parent or spouse begin to experience dizziness, a sense that your surroundings are spinning (also known as vertigo), a feeling of faintness or lightheadedness, or a feeling that you might fall, these are symptoms that may indicate a balance disorder.
Because these problems can lead to a fall, they should be discussed with your physician. Your doctor may recommend tests to determine the cause. Recommended treatment could include balance retraining exercises; use of a cane or walker to help maintain balance; medication for vertigo or high blood pressure which can cause feelings of lightheadedness; avoidance of alcohol, caffeine, or other dietary substances; or other protocols.
Many elderly people may experience problems in maintaining balance but may not mention it to their family. It’s a good idea to ask them if they are experiencing any changes such as dizziness or lightheadedness. Also, note how they move about their home – do they reach for furniture or a wall to steady themselves as they walk? That may be a sign that they feel unstable and in need of physical support.
At FootPrints Home Care, our home caregivers are trained to identify issues with our clients so that we can help each client live in their home as long as possible. If we notice the elder may be having trouble with balance, our caregiver will physically help provide stability during transfers, bathing and moving about the home. We will note this in the care plan for the family and may recommend the use of a gait belt or that there be a discussion with the senior’s physician.
Safety for seniors in at-home care is vital. FootPrints believes senior home care is more than keeping the home tidy, preparing meals, and companionship. Our goal is to care for your loved one as if they were part of our own family. If we can be of service to age in place at home, please call us. We help families across the greater Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe region.