Senior Balance Problems

April 22, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
feature image

Loss of balance can result from a number of diseases and lifestyle choices. It can severely limit a person’s ability to live an independent life. Ultimately, it can lead to a life altering fall that can cause serious injury. If your elder loved one is complaining of this symptom, it’s time to take notice and make an appointment with their primary health care provider. In many instances, there are treatment options.

What causes balance problems in seniors?

1. Dizziness and Vertigo

Feelings of dizziness or vertigo, a feeling that things around them are spinning, can cause loss of balance. This sensation is a common reason for falls and increasing isolation. Your loved one may complain of feeling dizzy upon standing, when turning their head, or at certain times of the day. The most common inner ear problem is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) which is due to calcium crystals breaking loose in the inner ear. Though it does result in severe dizziness and vertigo, the sensation often lasts less than a minute.

2. Lightheadedness

A sense of near-fainting can be brought on by low blood pressure, anxiety disorders, heart disease, diabetes, orthostatic hypotension (a significant drop in blood pressure upon standing or sitting quickly), and medications. Even dehydration can bring on a feeling of lightheadedness.

3. Physical Ailments

Damage to nerves in the legs (peripheral neuropathy), muscle weakness, joint damage due to arthritis, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s can all cause loss of balance.

How to Help Seniors With Balance Problems

Finding the underlying cause is the first step in helping your loved one overcome this troublesome symptom. Once the exact cause is determined, specific actions can be implemented.


If medication is believed to be a contributing factor, make a list of all medications, including over-the-counter and supplements, and take it to their pharmacist or primary healthcare provider. They will be able to check for any possible interactions and suggest alternatives.


If BPPV is thought to be the cause, canalith repositioning has shown proven benefits. This involves movements of the head designed to rearrange the displaced crystals. It’s also important to make sure their blood sugar and blood pressure levels are in check. Take daily records of these and share them with their primary health care practitioner should you see cause for concern.

Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through good food and beverage choices and daily exercise can produce beneficial results. The plate method is an easy-to-use meal planning method that helps to keep your loved one’s diet in check. It involves keeping half of their plate filled with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of their plate occupied by whole grains, and the remainder filled up with high-quality protein.

Adjustments need to be made for specific dietary concerns such as diabetes. Water should be their choice of beverage and alcohol should be kept to a minimum. If they smoke, they need to find a way to stop. If they are concerned about initiating an exercise program due to their lack of balance, consider setting up an appointment with a physical therapist who can instruct them on the best methods of exercise that also ensure safety.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care Services

An elder care provider can help get them through this difficult time. They can assist them with transferring from different parts of the house. They can help with bathing and dressing, prepare meals, go grocery shopping, and run errands. They can accompany them on increasingly longer walks as your elder parent begins to heal and make sure they always have a glass of water by their side. They can provide transportation to appointments, classes, and special events.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today (888) 592-5855.