What Causes Balance Issues in Older Adults?

As we age, balance issues often become a significant concern for many older adults. These problems can stem from various health conditions, each with its unique symptoms and implications.

Understanding what causes balance issues in older adults is crucial for effectively managing them and preserving their mobility and quality of life. 

Let’s take a look at the common balance problems, ways to tell that you have a balance problem, and how to manage balance issues. 

Most Common Balance Problems

Certain health conditions can be the direct cause of balance problems. If your loved one has been diagnosed with one of the following conditions, they may have already experienced balance issues or should be aware that they may be susceptible to having balance issues: 

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

This condition triggers brief bouts of dizziness induced by changes in head position, often stemming from small calcium particles in the inner ear.

Meniere’s Disease

Affecting the inner ear, Meniere’s disease manifests with symptoms like vertigo, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).


Typically arising from infection, labyrinthitis is an inner ear disorder that results in dizziness, vertigo, and nausea.

Chronic Conditions (Hearing and Vision)

Hearing loss and blurred vision can disrupt the vestibular system, which is crucial for balance control.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

This syndrome is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which  may lead to facial paralysis, hearing loss, and vertigo.

Medications and Alcohol

Some medications and alcohol consumption can induce side effects that impact balance, heightening the risk of falls.

How To Tell if You Have a Balance Problem

Recognizing the signs of a balance problem is crucial for early detection and intervention. Here are some common indicators that may suggest you have a balance problem:

Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded

If you frequently experience sensations of dizziness, lightheadedness or a spinning sensation (vertigo), especially when changing positions or moving your head, it could indicate a balance issue.

Difficulty Walking or Standing

If you struggle to maintain your balance while walking, standing, or changing positions, or if you find yourself frequently bumping into objects or stumbling, it may be a sign of a balance problem.

Unexplained Falls

If you have experienced unexplained falls or near falls, especially without any obvious cause or while performing routine activities, it could suggest a balance impairment.

Blurry Vision or Sensory Changes

Changes in vision, such as blurriness, double vision or difficulty focusing, can affect your sense of balance. Similarly, alterations in sensory perception, such as numbness or tingling in the extremities, may impact balance.

Feeling Unsteady or Off-Balance

If you often feel unsteady or off-balance, even when standing still or sitting down, it may indicate a balance issue. This sensation may be accompanied by a feeling of floating, tilting or swaying.

Nausea or Motion Sickness

Persistent feelings of nausea, motion sickness or disorientation, particularly in response to movement or changes in position, can be associated with balance problems.

Difficulty Concentrating or Focusing

Balance issues can sometimes affect cognitive function, leading to difficulty concentrating, memory problems or a feeling of mental fog.

Increased Anxiety or Fear of Falling

If you find yourself feeling increasingly anxious or fearful about falling or losing your balance, it may be a sign that you are experiencing balance difficulties.

If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation. They can help determine the underlying cause of your balance problem and recommend appropriate treatment or interventions to improve your balance and overall well-being.

How To Manage Falls

Falls can be prevented by taking proactive measures to address potential risk factors. Here are some strategies to help avoid falls:

Maintain a Safe Environment

Remove tripping hazards such as loose rugs, electrical cords, and clutter from walkways. Ensure adequate lighting in all areas, especially at night, to improve visibility and reduce the risk of tripping.

Stay Active and Exercise

Engage in regular physical activity to improve strength, balance, and flexibility. Walking, tai chi, and yoga are all activities that can benefit your strength and coordination, which will improve your balance. 

Review Medications

Some medications have potential side effects that may increase fall risk. You can review medications with a health professional to address these concerns. They may find alternatives that have less of a falling risk. 

Regular Vision and Hearing Checks

Schedule regular vision and hearing exams to detect changes that may affect balance and spatial awareness. Corrective measures such as glasses or hearing aids can improve sensory function and reduce fall risk.

Use Assistive Devices

Assistive devices can provide stability and peace of mind. They are specifically fitted to you to be as effective as possible. These devices include canes, walkers or grab bars. 

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Maintain adequate hydration and a balanced diet to support overall health and well-being. Monitor blood sugar levels and manage conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure to prevent dizziness and fainting episodes.

Wear Appropriate Footwear

Choose supportive and properly fitting footwear with non-slip soles to provide traction and stability while walking. Avoid high heels, slippery socks or bare feet, especially on smooth or uneven surfaces.

Be Mindful of Environmental Factors

Be cautious when navigating unfamiliar or hazardous environments, such as wet or icy surfaces. Take your time and use handrails or support when necessary to navigate safely.

By implementing these preventive measures, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of falls and maintain their safety and independence.

If you or a loved one require additional support in fall prevention, consider reaching out to healthcare professionals or assisted living communities for personalized assistance and guidance.

Your Loved One’s Safety Matters

Your loved one deserves to live safely and with confidence, even in the face of balance issues. At Allerton House Hingham, we are dedicated to providing compassionate care and support that addresses their unique needs.

Give us a call today at 781-486-3040 to learn more about how we can provide your loved one with the assistance and peace of mind they deserve.

With our commitment to excellence in senior care, you can trust that your family member will receive the support they need to live their best life.