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Balance Problems for Seniors

In 2008, an estimated 14.8 percent of American adults (33.4 million) had a balance or dizziness problem during the past year.

Why Good Balance is Important

Having good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position, whether you are moving or remaining still. An intact sense of balance helps you

  • walk without staggering
  • get up from a chair without falling
  • climb stairs without tripping
  • bend over without falling

The part of the inner ear responsible for balance is the labyrinth. To maintain your body’s position, the labyrinth interacts with other systems in the body, such as the eyes, bones and joints.  Good balance is important to help you get around, stay independent, and carry out daily activities.

When People Have Problems with Balance

senior-elderly-fallingAs they get older, many people experience problems with their sense of balance. They feel dizzy or unsteady, or as if they or their surroundings were in motion. Disturbances of the inner ear are a common cause.

Vertigo, the feeling that you or the things around you are spinning, is also a common symptom.

Falls and fall-related injuries, such as hip fracture, can have a serious impact on an older person’s life. If you fall, it could limit your activities or make it impossible to live independently. Many people often become more isolated after a fall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly more than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths.

There are many ways to treat balance disorders. Treatments vary depending on the cause. See your doctor if you are experiencing dizziness, vertigo, or other problems with your balance.

(Reprinted from NIHSeniorHealth.gov website).