By Jenny Austin-Krzemien, Certified Concierge Care Advisor
I recently spent time with a person who had been suffering from vertigo, which is a sensation where you feel like you are moving, spinning, or generally off balance. Many years ago, during a workout session, I had an acute onset of vertigo, and I could not walk without falling over! It was incredibly frightening, but after a visit to urgent care and a treatment by a very skilled physician, I was back on my feet.
Vertigo can be caused by various underlying factors, but it is often associated with issues in the inner ear, particularly the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation.
Vertigo can be particularly dangerous for anyone but especially seniors. It can increase the risk of falls because elderly people often have reduced balance and coordination due to age-related changes. Some seniors are frail. When vertigo strikes, it can exacerbate these problems, which can lead to a fall, which can result in serious injuries.
Elderly individuals are also more likely to have other medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension. These conditions can sometimes be linked to or exacerbated by vertigo, making the overall health impact more significant. Seniors often take multiple medications to manage their various health conditions. Some medications may have side effects that can worsen or trigger vertigo. Additionally, interactions between drugs can increase the risk of experiencing vertigo as a side effect.
If an elderly person experiences vertigo, it is essential for them to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate care. Diagnosing and treating the root cause of vertigo can help reduce the associated risks and improve the individual’s quality of life.
Vestibular Rehabilitation is a specialized form of physical therapy designed to improve balance and reduce dizziness. Sometimes medication is prescribed to alleviate symptoms of vertigo. The Epley Maneuver is what worked for me- this technique involves a series of head movements to reposition the tiny calcium particles in the inner ear that are causing vertigo. Other treatments include lifestyle and dietary changes, surgery for severe cases of vertigo, and management of underlying conditions such as Meniere’s disease or migraines. As always, it’s best to consult your doctor for their recommendations.