Middle aged couple hand in hand smiling in park

Why Does Our Balance Get Worse As We Get Older?

by | Aug 29, 2018 | Patient Resources

Do you remember juggling arms full of grocery bags while trying to open the front door without so much as a wobble? But somehow today even getting out of bed can leave you feeling dizzy? Well, you’re not alone. By the time people head into their 80s, a staggering 90% have trouble balancing according to the American Academy of Audiology.

So, why does the seemingly simple act of balancing become such a challenge as we get older?

There isn’t just one answer to that question. The aging body takes a lot of hits to all its different systems, each making it that little bit harder to balance. Let’s take a look at a few of them now.

The eyes

Becoming long-sighted isn’t the only drop in vision that happens with aging. Other conditions become more common too, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Poor vision makes it harder to be spatially aware, which can lead to dizziness.

The muscles and joints

Our muscles get smaller and weaker as we age and our joints get stiffer. This makes those small movements of our body that are vital to retaining our balance that much more difficult to execute smoothly and effectively.

The heart

Heart disease and low blood pressure are more common in old age. They both lead to lightheadedness and sometimes even blurry vision.

The brain

Dementia is sadly another common consequence of aging. Although the biology of dementia isn’t fully understood, we do know that it is associated with dizzy spells.

The ears

Or more specifically the vestibular system, which is a fancy name for the parts of the inner ear that control our ability to balance. Blood flow to the inner ear decreases with age, which makes these tissues more vulnerable to damage and a damaged vestibular system means poor balance. Hearing loss is also associated with balance problems as it reduces spatial awareness.

You probably already know if your vision is impaired, your muscles are tired or your joints are stiff. But what about your hearing? Find out where you stand with your hearing health today, with a hearing and balance test at Beltone Hearing. 

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