The leading cause of injury-related deaths is falling among people age 65 and older. The rate of deaths related to falls rises dramatically with age. Many more falls, though not fatal, result in minor to serious injuries and disability. The problem aging adults face is diminishing balance with age.
Balance Problems in Seniors
Balance starts in the inner ear. The vestibular system, or labyrinth, interacts with other systems of the body to keep your body’s position steady. As you age, there are a number of factors that can affect your balance. Weakening muscles, inner ear disturbances, and balance disorders are among the more common.
Having Good Balance
Your body’s ability to control and maintain its position is what we call balance. Balance helps you remain steady as you walk, get up and down without falling, climb stairs and ladders, and lean and bend over without falling. For seniors, better balance means more independence. It can help them be able to handle many activities of daily living better for a longer number of years.
Balance and Age
With age, many people begin to experience issues with the sense of balance. You may feel dizzy or unsteady on your feet. Sometimes, you may feel the world around you is in motion. Some of the common causes are Labyrinthitis, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), and Ménière’s Disease. Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that often comes with an upper respiratory infection. It causes dizziness and loss of balance. BBPV causes an intense sensation of vertigo anytime you change the position of your head. Finally, Ménière’s Disease is a balance disorder that causes vertigo, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and pressure in the ears.
Fall Injuries in the Elderly
When falls are not fatal, they still can have a significant impact on the life of a senior. Due to osteoporosis and other factors, fractures to the hip, wrist, humerus, and pelvis are the most common fall-related injury for people age 65 and older. Falls also cause hematoma, sprains, severe laceration, joint dislocation, and other soft tissue injuries. Sometimes, they are disabling. However, most injury-related falls are not serious enough to call for medical attention.
Preventing Senior Falls
Eating a healthy diet and staying active are some of the best ways to prevent falls for seniors. Keeping the body healthy improves resistance to illness and shortens recovery time. Exercise and frequent physical activity help keep the muscles as strong as possible. Muscle strength and mass tend to decline with age. Exercise strengthens muscles, boosts endurance, and improves posture and joint motion. An easy way to keep active in later years is to incorporate movement in daily activities. Have a conversation as you walk with a loved one. Watch TV as you exercise. Explore other ways to keep moving throughout the day. Our assisted living cottages and staff are equipped to keep your senior loved ones as active as possible.
Stay Independent as Long as You Can
Balance often diminishes as you age. A number of factors contribute to an increased risk of falls among seniors. Weakening muscles, inner ear disturbances, and balance disorders are common causes. Use this guide to balance problems in seniors to improve balance and stay independent as long as possible. Contact Us for more information on senior care or for a tour of one of our cottages.