Without proper balance, people risk slipping, falling, or getting into other accidents while moving around. Seniors are particularly likely to face balance issues. Because balance is an incredibly complicated skill, there are several reasons balance decreases with age. The La Mesa in-home care experts at Coast Care Partners share these facts about the underlying causes of balance issues in seniors so you can help your loved one take steps to address them.
All seniors tend to experience at least some muscle tone loss because the normal aging process results in muscles that are smaller and less able to contract. Since prompt muscle reactions are a major part of balance, not having strong muscles tends to result in some balance issues. Fortunately, it may be possible for seniors to counteract this issue by exercising frequently.
Diminished Nervous System Function and Cognitive Decline
Balance requires the brain to constantly accept feedback from the eyes, inner ear, and joints, process this feedback, and use it to make minor adjustments to balance. However, as seniors age, they tend to experience shrinking gray matter in the brain and nerves that don’t pass signals as quickly. This combination makes it difficult for the brain to properly process sensory information and use it to adjust balance. Even if a senior doesn’t have dementia or any other cognitive illness, the normal aging of the brain and nervous system structure are likely to affect balance.
Reduced Sensory Input
The eyes and inner ear are two of the major factors in regulating balance, and aging tends to put a lot of wear and tear on these organs. There are many causes of vision loss in seniors, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, and seniors also have higher rates of vertigo, inner ear infections, and other inner ear issues. In some cases, senior eye conditions such as cataracts can be easily treated by an eye doctor. However, inner ear conditions are more challenging to manage.
Other Health Conditions
A wide range of health issues in seniors can disrupt the body’s normal process of balancing. Anything that throws off normal movements and habitual strength levels can cause the brain to misinterpret signals and affect balance. One of the most common health conditions associated with balance issues is arthritis, but even minor things such as a bunion on the foot or iron-deficient anemia can cause issues.
When people don’t frequently practice their balancing skills, they tend to lose them. Seniors who are bedridden for a long time or spend a lot of time sitting down tend to experience more balance issues. Because inactivity can cause so many balance issues, doctors encourage physically able seniors to try out yoga, tai chi, or other exercises that get them to practice their balancing skills.
If your senior loved one has balance issues and needs help to age in place safely and comfortably, consider hiring a professional caregiver. For high-quality home care, La Mesa families trust Coast Care Partners. As the premier caregiving agency in San Diego, we can ensure your loved one’s safety while assisting with a variety of daily tasks. We offer a range of services, including live-in care and specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia home care. Reach out to us today at 619-354-2544 to find out more about our customizable care plans.