We all have loved ones that can be suffering from dizziness and imbalance.
Do you have a family member or a friend who has fallen or falls frequently? Perhaps you have noticed the funny way they walk and thought: “Are they drunk?" This might sound or look funny, but in reality, it is very frightening for the one suffering it.
Approximately one out of three adults over 65 and almost one of every two adults over 80 falls at least one a year often ending in tragedy. The human equilibrium is very complex and is the result of multiple reflexes and motor responses responding to stimulation from three different sensory systems: The vestibular system, the vision and the sensory endings located at the bottom of our feet and joints. A problem involving any of this three can result in equilibrium issues of different magnitudes.
The main system out of the three is the vestibular system which is located in the inner ear and which function is to detect positions and movements, inform the brain about them and coordinate the movement of the eyes with the movement of the head and the body. Therefore, If this system fails as a result of a disease, age degeneration or accidents, symptoms like dizziness, vertigo, unsteadiness on the feet and/or gaze instability are provoked.
Here is a big psychosocial issue for this sufferers: Most people around them think this problem is in their head, therefore they are misjudged as clumsy, lazy, stressful people who just want to call other people attention, but in reality they might be having issues to remain balanced, to focus on things, to read and even to do a simple mathematical operation. This lack of understanding of their situation might cause them to fall into depression and isolate.
Here are 12 simple tips to prevent falls in older adults:
1. Being aware of the surroundings detecting obstacles or unevenness of the terrain
2. Taking the time to walk at their own pace without being rushed.
3. Limiting alcohol consumption.
4. Avoiding long skirts or pants that can make them trip.
5. Keeping their house clear from clutter
6. Being careful with or avoiding pets and their toys or water dishes on the floor.
7. Placing night lights on the path to the bathroom or the kitchen
8. Using the toilet frequently to avoid having to rush and use it right before bed to decrease bathroom trips during the night when they are sleepy and less aware.
9. Installing safety bars in areas like the bathroom, showers or by the stairs.
10. Avoiding mats or area rugs which are easy to trip on.
11. Keeping all necessary items within easy reach to avoid reaching far and climbing.
12. Using closed shoes rather than open sandals or flip-flops.
It is also very important to get evaluated by a physical therapist with training in vestibular rehabilitation to get started on an exercise program that has proven to be the most effective treatment in this cases.