What Causes Balance Problems in Seniors

Balance Loss and Risks of Falls in Seniors

Seniors often lose their balance because of side effects from prescription medication and other reasons that are related to aging. Elderly people who suffer from psychiatric problems usually take potent drugs that can significantly hinder the proper function of the central nervous system. For example, sedatives slow down the body by regulating the flow of neurons in nerve cells. Consequently, people who take such pills lose their coordination and motor skills. Drugs that treat dementia, anxiety, insomnia and depression are notorious for increasing the risk of falls in seniors. For example, antidepressants and benzodiazepines cause dizziness and sleepiness. The labels on such drugs clearly state the side effects that are most likely to occur to people of all ages and not just the elderly.

What Causes Balance Problems in Seniors

There are plenty of physical conditions that also compromise senior health and lead to loss of balance. Bone degeneration is a natural consequence of aging that leads to a poor posture. The loss of bone integrity in the spinal column results in kyphosis, which is responsible for the hunching posture in the elderly. The center of gravity of seniors essentially shifts over the years and essentially disrupts balance. Even worse, overweight people who are hunched over tend to wobble when they walk due to difficulty in maintaining proper balance. Extra weight also exerts a lot of pressure and strain on the knee joints that are already weakened by arthritis and other conditions. Therefore, seniors carrying extra weight on their bodies struggle to stand and walk upright especially on elevated terrains and structures including steps.

An unexpected illness in seniors also creates a lot of dangers when it comes to balance and motor skills. Elderly individuals are susceptible to catching viruses and other contagious diseases that can quickly lead to fatigue. Even the common cold can affect a senior citizen to the extent of limiting walking and standing. During the fall and winter season, the risk of contracting pneumonia is quite high. A person who has this condition usually has to spend days in bed at home or in the hospital. Within hours of becoming sick, a senior can lose balance and fall to the floor if prompt help isn’t made available.

Whether using mobility aids or not, seniors are at high risk of losing their balance and falling down. Prescription medication may make elderly people dizzy, sleepy and wobbly. Therefore, drug intake should be closely monitored by relatives and caregivers.