Our balance is something we rely on every day. We use it to get up and walk, put our shoes on, sit up straight… almost everything we do on a daily basis requires balance.
In order to maintain balance, our bodies rely on our sensory systems. Our sensory system includes the sense of touch through our feet, ankles and joints, our vision and our inner ear canals. If any of these sensory systems aren’t functioning properly, we are more susceptible to trips and falls leading to injury – and will likely have a longer and more difficult recovery period in our senior years.
It’s not uncommon to develop balance issues and a tendency to trip or fall as we get older. Acquiring balance problems is not an inevitable part of aging, but there are several things that can cause them – and it’s often a combination of a few conditions:
- Problems with the inner ear canals (vertigo)
- Medication side effects (see which medications may be the culprit in our article, It’s a Balancing Act)
- Blood circulation problems
- Neuropathic numbness in the feet and/or legs
- Disease of the nervous system (Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis)
- Past injuries (concussion, sprains, fractures)
- Eye problems (macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts)
Because there are a variety of issues that can cause balance problems, it can be difficult to diagnose the cause and treatment on your own. And you don’t want to wait to tell your doctor about any balance issues you’re having – one fall can have serious consequences.
In addition to seeing your medical provider, there are steps you can take to gain better control of your balance and avoid falls.
- Practice standing on one leg
- Walk heel to toe
- Take a tai chi class
- Do resistance exercises
- Wear proper footwear
- Remove tripping hazards from your home, such as wires and rugs and make sure walkways are clear of clutter and furniture.
Remember, we have medical providers who specialize in senior care. Together we can find the cause of your balance problem and get you back on steady ground.
Together with Outcomes Therapy Services, Be Well MD offers Fall Risk Reduction workshops – including balance testing – in senior living communities throughout Austin. Contact us at 512-553-1921 or visit our Events page for locations and more details.