Common Causes of Dizziness and Loss of Balance in the Elderly

Dizziness and loss of balance in the elderly can be caused by many different things and can be quite dangerous as it can cause falls and injuries or be an indicator of another medical issue. Family caregivers should know what can cause dizziness so that they are able to prevent it in their loved ones or help them seek treatment. In this article we would like to share some information about the causes of dizziness and loss of balance in the elderly to help family caregivers provide the best possible care for their loved ones.

Vision, Hearing and Physical Condition

A person’s sense of balance depends on many things such as vision, hearing and physical body condition.  Seniors are prone to balance problems and dizziness because they are prone to conditions that affect their vision, hearing or physical condition.  The inner ear is the most important factor in balance because the inner ear is comprised of fluid-filled tubes and chambers that allow humans to maintain their sense of balance.  These fluid-filled tubes and chambers contain specialized nerve endings which detect the position and movement of the head and the direction of gravity.  If the inner ear becomes damaged it is harder to detect movement and gravity which can be very problematic.  Seniors are known to have problems with hearing as they age but many people overlook the inner ear which can also be affected by aging.  Studies suggest that 85% of dizziness and loss of balance problems are due to a problem with the inner ear.  One of the best ways to diagnose an inner problem is by visiting an audiologist.  Seniors can talk with their regular doctor and get a referral if they believe that an inner ear problem could be the source of their problem.  Physicians can often rule out other possible causes before referring seniors to an audiologist so it is best to start with your regular physician before visiting a specialist.

Central Nervous System and Cardiac

While a problem with the inner ear is the most common cause of dizziness or loss of balance in the elderly, it is not the only possible cause.  Central nervous system disorders and cardiac problems are also known for causing balance problems as well.  The most common central nervous system disorder that causes dizziness and loss of balance in the elderly is stroke.  When a stroke occurs part of the brain gets damaged which can cause many problems with movement because the brain is responsible for sending instructions to the rest of the body.  Many people report losing feeling in one side of their body after having a stroke and that loss of feeling can lead to balance problems.  Cardiac issues such as high or low blood pressure can also cause dizziness or loss of balance in the elderly.  Both high and low blood pressure can cause dizziness and loss of balance, so it is important for seniors to monitor their blood pressure on a regular basis and note any changes that they see.  High blood pressure also puts seniors at risk for a stroke which as previously mentioned can cause balance problems as well so it is very important for seniors to keep their blood pressure levels under control.


Medications are another common cause of dizziness and loss of balance in the elderly.  Many seniors have to take multiple medications on a daily basis, but not all medications work well together or react the same way for everyone.  People react differently to medications so it is important for seniors to visit their doctor if they think that their new medication is affecting their balance or causing them to become dizzy.  Seniors who are already taking regular medications should consult their doctor before adding any medications or supplements to their daily routine because certain drugs do not work well together and can cause problems if taken together on a regular basis. Family caregivers can assist their loved ones by keeping an updated list of their medications so that they can make sure that their doctor is aware of anything they are taking before prescribing any new medication that might react badly with their previous prescriptions.

The most important thing for seniors and family caregivers to keep in mind is that dizziness and loss of balance should not be taken lightly or ignored.  Many people consider these to be normal signs of aging but those that experience dizziness and loss of balance are much more likely to fall and sustain a serious injury.  Seniors do not heal as quickly as younger adults do so an injury can greatly affect their quality of life and cause them to lose their sense of independence. Family caregivers should watch their loved ones for signs of dizziness or loss of balance and consult their loved one’s doctor if they notice either condition.

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