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COLUMN: Dizziness and problems with balance may be part of aging

Dr. Susan Blatt, Oneida County Health Department
Posted 1/23/23

Many senior citizens complain of dizziness, balance problems, vertigo or light-headedness.

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COLUMN: Dizziness and problems with balance may be part of aging

Posted

Many senior citizens complain of dizziness, balance problems, vertigo or light-headedness.

If this is a new problem for you or if you have not talked to your doctor about this, you should get medical advice. Start with your family doctor, who has known you for years. He or she will try to figure out what type of unpleasant feelings you are having and what tests you might need.

You may be sent to several doctors to rule out problems with your eyes, your ears, your brain, your heart or another system. You need to persist if you and your doctor think you have a serious problem.

It may be that several doctors have told you that there is not a sign of a problem with any specific condition. You may decide then to wait for a bit and see if it gets better. Besides looking for a cause for your problem, you need to keep yourself safe.

Are you drinking enough water? Are you drinking too much alcohol? Have you started a new medicine (including non-prescription supplements)? Have you fallen recently? Does any part of your body hurt? Are you getting a good night’s sleep?

You should look at your exercise program. Since the pandemic many people spend most of their day at home. Try to walk two miles a day. If walking makes you nervous, especially in the winter, find a place you can walk inside. Most senior centers can help you with that and they can also provide companionship, which is important.

Also look at the safety of your home. Is there clutter that should be cleaned up? Are there grab bars in the bathroom? Is it safe getting in and out of your house? Do you have railings or grab bars wherever there are stairs or steps? Are you a safe driver? Is your hearing adequate? Do you need to get new glasses?

If you feel dizzy at home, is there a chance it is due to loneliness? Make sure you go out with friends. Speak right up to people, wherever you are. Contacts with people can take away anxiety. Do you talk regularly with your relatives? Call your friends up instead of emailing. Suggest going out for a cup of coffee. Join or start a book group. Go to your church or synagogue and attend their social events.

Many times, people who have dizziness and light heartedness have no treatable condition. Once you are told that by your doctors, the problem may go away. It may just be anxiety about getting older and a few minor episodes of light-headedness.

Speak to your children and other family members and friends, if the problems persist. Consider moving out of your house into senior living.

Many people are very happy when they make that change and no longer have the responsibility of caring for a home.

If you choose to remain in your home, consider paying someone to spend time with you a few days a week. There may be funding for this, and your senior center can help you with that. You may live many more years, and as you age, it may be necessary to change your lifestyle.

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