Spin around a few times and then try walking in a straight line. How do you feel? Off balance? Dizzy? Nauseous? Like you’re about to fall? Now imagine feeling like this several times a day or more. That’s what life is like for 70% of people aged over 65. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
This Senior Citizen Day at Scottsdale Ear, Nose and Throat, we don’t just want to celebrate our senior citizens, we want to make their lives a little better. When it comes to age-related dizziness and imbalance there is help at hand.
What causes dizziness as we get older?
There are lots of reasons, but one of the most common is a condition called BPPV. It all comes down to what’s going on in our inner ears.
The inner ear is a complex labyrinth that contains special crystals made of calcium. These crystals are meant to stay put, but as we age they can get dislodged and end up in another part of the inner ear responsible for our ability to balance, the semi-circular canals. When this happens, getting up, looking up or down, turning your head, or even rolling over in bed can cause a sudden bout of dizziness. Falls and injuries become almost inevitable when dizziness gets this bad.
That’s why it’s so important to get older loved ones who are dealing with dizziness the help they need.
What you can do to help
Be vigilant. When you notice your loved one is having a dizzy spell, be there with a steady hand. Help them get to somewhere they can sit or lie down and make sure they have everything they need within easy reach, as they may need some time to rest and recover.
Make sure that your loved one’s home is ‘fall-proof’. For example, install grab bars in the bathroom and in the corridors, get rid of slippery floor mats and make sure the bannisters are secure.
Most importantly, make sure your loved one gets the professional medical help they need: that’s where we come in.
What we can do to help
The first thing we’ll do is carry out a thorough hearing and balance health check using state-of-the-art equipment; we’re one of only four clinics in Arizona to offer computerized rotational chair testing. Once the results are in we’ll get to work on a treatment plan, whether its medication, exercises or a combination of both.
Don’t let dizziness be the first step in a downwards spiral of falls and ill health for your senior relative. Be the one to help them get their life back on track. Get in touch with Scottsdale Ear, Nose and Throat.
Debra Hamila received her master’s degree in audiology from Cleveland State University and her Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences and has been a practicing audiologist for more than 33 years. She has worked in a variety of ENT offices, hospital and clinical settings.