Changes in weight or the types of medication being taken, as well as other causes, can play a part in the effects of aging on balance. For most people, the changes can sometimes be dangerous, but there are ways to offset the risks. Gaining or losing weight is often one factor in how the aging process affects one’s balance, especially if one becomes heavier. The legs and hips must support the extra weight, so it is possible for one to tire easier, which can result in loss of balance.
In some older people, weight gain is often caused by decreased physical activity. That is why it’s important to remain active even while aging is occurring. Certain medications also contribute to how the aging process affects one’s balance. This does not always have to be in a negative way, however.
If the balance problem was caused by changes or abnormalities in the inner ear, medication taken to correct the problem may actually improve balance. Further, it may be discovered that aging was never a factor in balance problems; rather, that the older person was suffering from a previously undetected inner ear problem.
The onset of some diseases often begins in the aging years; therefore, this can be another result of how the aging process affects one’s balance. Illnesses such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as others, often manifest themselves as one gets older. All of these can cause balance problems.
Another effect aging has on balance is in the development of neuropathy. This is a condition which affects the nerve endings of the fingers, toes, and bottoms of the feet. It can be caused by diabetes, as a result of chemotherapy treatment for cancer, and other things. When neuropathy is present, feeling in the bottom of the feet is sometimes diminished. For this reason, an older person may think his footing is secure, when in fact it isn’t.
How the aging process affects one’s balance unfortunately can cause increased dangers for the aging person. These dangers can include more frequent falls, some of which often result in broken bones, especially hip bones. Any fall can be bad, but it can be even more tragic when the older person falls and is unable to get up or is unable to summon help. Stories of aging people lying for days with broken bones and injuries are not uncommon.
For this reason, once evidence of how the aging process affects one’s balance becomes apparent, it is important for family members and/or caregivers to ensure that older people have a way of summoning help should such a situation occur. This can include using personal alarm systems, or having someone make frequent checks on an aging person.
Prevention of falls is a major part of dealing with how the aging process affects one’s balance. Small changes such as removing obstacles, including area rugs, wearing shoes with non-slip soles, and informing health care professionals of changes in balance as a result of medication can all decrease or even eliminate the possibility of an older person being injured as a result of balance problems.
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