Aging and Balance Disorders

Your risk of having balance problems increases as you get older.
If you have a balance disorder, your symptoms might include:

  • Dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation).
  • Falling or feeling as if you are going to fall.
  • Staggering when you try to walk.
  • Lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Confusion or disorientation.

Be sure to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. For lots of clear, detailed information, take a look at this National Institute of Health Balance Disorders Page  https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/balance-disorders

Tai Chi is a proven method for improving balance and preventing falls.  Check it out at a Senior or Recreation Center near you. A National Institute of Health website states that:  A 2013 Cochrane review examined which fall prevention interventions, including Tai Chi, are effective for older people living in the community. The review included 159 randomized controlled trials of 79,193 participants.  Reviewers found that Tai Chi significantly reduced the risk of fallinghttps://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/taichi-science

Bonnie Hays, a Chiropractor specializing in Functional Neurology, informs us that spatial orientation is a challenge for persons having a balance problem and is associated with falls—especially when they arise from bed and start to walk. (Bonnie Hayes https://handle.org/Sys/PublicProfile/13223263/1847935)  One simple trick to prevent falls is to look for a few seconds at some blue masking tape previously placed on the floor alongside the bed and in the doorway.  Simple vestibular exercises, such as walking backward can help. For example, this 6 minute video provides Home Vestibular Exercises  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epJ1luFyF2o.

A simple, yoga-based, balance-walk exercise that we all could use is to basically take ten heel-to-toe steps forward in a straight line followed by 10 toe-to-heel steps backwards.  The NIH National Institute on Aging website describes a forward-only variation of this exercise as well as others for balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility.   https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/exercise/balance-walk/

If you have a balance disorder, tell your doctor. Clearly, we need to keep moving and a few simple exercises may help us to prevent a fall. What is your experience with balance – either losing it or maintaining it?

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