It's no secret that our world is getting louder and more chaotic. From
Balance problems like dizziness or vertigo are commonly experienced by many older adults. An estimated 30% of individuals over the age of 60 and 50% of individuals over the age of 85 have experienced symptoms of dizziness. There are numerous causes of balance problems like certain health conditions or medications. Causes of balance problems that can also affect hearing include inner ear infections, Meniere’s Disease, medications, tumors, head injuries, and blood circulation problems. Hearing loss and balance problems often co-occur. This is because the inner ear is responsible for both hearing and balance function. Hearing loss often indicates a problem with the inner ear which may extend to the organs of balance. Did you know that individuals with untreated hearing loss are three times more likely to have a history of falling? This may be due to reduced spatial awareness and reduced availability of cognitive resources due to hearing loss. The leading cause for hospitalization in seniors is actually falls. Falls are also the leading cause of accidental death over the age of 65. Individuals with balance disorders are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. If you are experiencing balance problems, the first step is to set up an appointment with your primary care doctor. If necessary, they may refer to an audiologist, otolaryngologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, or psychologist. Additional testing and treatment such as physical therapy may be recommended. Strategies like maintaining a good diet, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, daily exercises, and using calming/stress reduction techniques are also good first steps to focus on. Take care to make sure there are no hazards in the home that can contribute to fall risk. Look out for folded up rugs, uneven floors, and clutter, and consider installing shower mats in the bathroom and railings around the house.