Identifying Balance Issues in Seniors

June 9, 2021

Having good balance is essential to our physical safety and well-being. We rely on the body to maintain balance to perform simple daily tasks like staying upright, walking without staggering, getting up from a chair, picking up heavy objects, and climbing stairs. Being able to balance is something that most of us likely take for granted. However, we can all relate to the experience of losing our balance on occasion, and the fear of falling that accompanies it. Imagine, then, if your balance was compromised regularly. For seniors, the natural aging process (along with certain health conditions or medications) may put them at a higher risk of developing balance issues and suffering from falls.

The following symptoms may be an indication that you or your loved one is experiencing problems with balance:

  • Staggering when walking
  • Teetering or falling while standing
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Sudden changes in blood pressure or heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Fear and anxiety

In addition to a decline in flexibility, mobility, and core strength, the following conditions may cause balance issues in seniors:

The above causes require a specific diagnosis and medical attention from a physician. A doctor will work with you or your loved one to create a plan of action and possibly prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms that are causing physical imbalances. However, no matter the age or condition, all seniors should be engaging in regular exercise to improve muscular strength and balance:

  • Walking improves circulation, strengthens muscles, eases joint and arthritis pain, and promotes good balance
  • Swimming and water aerobics provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout that simultaneously strengthens the muscles
  • Tai Chi encourages joint motion and has been shown to improve balance and lower the risk of falls in seniors
  • Bodyweight exercises such as wall push-ups, chair squats, and dead bugs will improve core strength

As always, we suggest consulting your doctor and working with a trained professional before embarking on a new exercise program.

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