Losing Balance: How to Stay Safe & Steady as You Age

Most of the time humans don’t think much about their sense of balance. It’s the job of your brain and body to work together to keep you standing upright. Once you begin losing balance, however, it’s difficult to ignore!

Balance is complex. It involves multiple body systems, and each one has an important role to play in your safety and mobility. If you begin losing balance when walking, it can often be difficult to pinpoint why.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the systems involved in maintaining balance. You’ll learn some of the common reasons why you might be struggling with stability. We’ll even include a few tips to help you maintain balance as you age. Continue reading to learn more about the science behind staying steady!

About Losing Balance

Your brain, ears, and body all play a role in preventing falls. We call the system responsible for balance the vestibular system.

The part of your brain responsible for balance is at the very back of your skull. Some doctors and scientists call this part the “little brain.” This area controls speech, movement, and posture.

Your brain does not work alone. As you go about your day, it receives information from your inner ear. There are structures in your ear that look like little hairs or crystals. They are actually small sensors that let your brain know the position of each of your body parts as you move around.

Every time the position of your body shifts, these sensors let your brain know so it can adjust and keep you upright.

If you begin losing balance, it is often because your inner ear and brain are having trouble communicating. That may signal a change in either your brain or your ears. In other cases, you may lose balance for a physical reason, such as a natural loss of muscle mass as you age.

What Is Losing Balance a Symptom Of?

We need our sense of balance to help us prevent falls, maintain independence, and live life to the fullest. If you’ve found yourself wondering, “Why am I losing balance?” it’s a good idea to see your doctor. They can help you identify the reason behind the changes and help you find solutions.

Loss of balance might be a symptom of one of the following concerns:

  • An ear infection
  • A concussion or head injury
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nerve problems like neuropathy
  • Loss of muscle control (such as after a knee or hip replacement)
  • A viral infection
  • Medication side effects
  • Vision changes
  • Hearing loss

If you notice any changes in balance, always see a medical professional. It can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as Parkinson’s Disease or stroke. Furthermore, losing balance causes falls, which can lead to injuries. The sooner you address it, the safer you will be.

By addressing the underlying cause, doctors are often able to help you regain your balance. They can also introduce you to mobility aids and services that can help you learn to live with balance challenges. The sooner you speak to a professional, the sooner you can confidently return to your favorite activities.

Losing Balance With Age

A smiling grandfather goes for a walk with his cane and receives support from his granddaughter Changes in your balance are also a normal part of aging. Dr. Elizabeth Ko, and Dr. Eve Glazier at UCLA tell us it’s normal for your sense of balance to change around the age of 50.

While the brain and inner ear play a major role in balance, strength and flexibility are important, too. As you age, you naturally begin to lose some muscle mass. Your bones also become smaller and less dense over time. All of these normal changes can cause natural shifts in your coordination and stability.

There is no need to worry about these natural, age-related changes. If you have concerns, there are things you can do to boost your balance as you age, and many of them are fun!

How to Stay Safe With Balance Challenges

If your balance changes aren’t caused by an underlying medical issue, the best thing to do is to get active. Healthy dietary changes can also play a role in keeping balance problems at bay.

Start small and consider adding the following elements to your routine:

  • Take a short daily walk
  • Consume adequate calcium
  • Attend a yoga, tai chi, or pilates class (or adapted class for seniors)
  • Practice standing on one foot while multitasking
  • Stand up from chairs without using armrests
  • Try swimming or aqua aerobics

If you are currently losing balance, the best thing you can do is prepare your home. Make sure walkways are clear and free from obstructions. A mobility aid, such as a cane, can help you find peace of mind as you go about your routine.

Some individuals might also benefit from a walking coach like NexStride. It’s a small, science-backed device that attaches to your walker, cane, or walking poles. It uses sound and light cues to help the brain and body work together to keep you moving forward.

Learn more about NexStride and reclaim your mobility and independence today.



Share This