Balance & Mobility

Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that lets you stand or move without falling, or recover if you trip. Good balance requires the coordination of several parts of the body: the central nervous system, inner ear, eyes, muscles, bones, and joints. Problems with any one of these can affect balance. Medical conditions can also affect balance. These include:

·       stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders of the central nervous system

·       Meniere's disease and other conditions that originate in the inner ear, which can cause vertigo and dizziness

·       cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, which distort vision

·       weakness in major muscles, particularly the thighs, abdomen, and back

·       nerve damage in the legs and feet (peripheral neuropathy) can affect the ability to sense the ground you're standing or walking on.

Other things can also influence balance, including:

·       medications, including antidepressants, drugs for anxiety, pain medication, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and some heart and blood pressure medications.

·       alcohol, which slows reaction time and affects judgment and coordination

A medical exam can identify conditions that may impair balance, and identify drugs that may have side effects that cause lightheadedness.

 

Improving muscle strength in the legs and the core can improve balance. So can exercises like Tai chi that increase flexibility.

Balance & Mobility Articles

5 tools to help you stand up on your own

Some tools can help people stand up from a seated position. For example, a “couch cane” provides additional support to get up off of a couch. A car grab bar slips into a door latch and acts as an extra support to lean on when exiting or entering a car. Rotating seat cushions help a person swing the legs into standing position. And furniture risers raise the height of a seat, which may also assist someone when standing. The ultimate assistance in getting up from a chair is an automatic electric recliner. More »

Walk your dog, break a bone?

A study published online March 6, 2019, by JAMA Surgery identified a rising number of fractures among older adults walking leashed dogs: 1,700 in 2004, climbing to almost 4,400 in 2017. Most of the bone breaks were in the upper arm. More »

Why wound healing gets harder as we age

Wounds in older adults can take a long time to heal. Treatment involves a combination of approaches such as debridement, special dressings, keeping pressure off the wound, exercising, taking a multivitamin, and eating a healthy diet with the recommended amounts of protein. Because wounds are tricky, it’s important to try to prevent them by switching positions often; keeping an eye out for nicks, cuts, and early signs of pressure wounds; and controlling conditions that can lead to wounds, such as diabetes and venous insufficiency. (Locked) More »

Preventing Falls Infographic

Falls are the leading cause of injuries among older adults, sending more than two million people to the emergency department each year. Falls often result in brain injuries, hip fractures, immobility, and even early death. Many fall hazards are right in our own homes, and a few inexpensive changes could lower your fall-risk. For other strategies and tips to avoid falls, check out Preventing Falls, the online guide from Harvard Medical School. More »

Your health through the decades

By age 60, all men tend to get thrown together into the so-called 60-and-older group, even though there are often significant differences between a man who is 65 and one who is 85. Certain lifestyle habits need to be maintained, no matter what a man’s age, such as adopting a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and continuing a regular exercise routine to build strength, flexibility, and cardio fitness. Yet most men also need to place extra attention on certain aspects of their health depending on whether they are in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. (Locked) More »