Balance and Understanding Seniors’ Risk of Falling

May 17, 2022

by Wayne Foley MPT, and Dominique Bagby PT, DPT

As we age, our balance will decline, and without maintaining a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance, you can become prone to an increased risk of falls. Every year more than one in three people age 65 years or older fall, and the risk increases with age. A simple fall can cause a severe fracture of the hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand, or ankle, leading to hospital stays, disability, and loss of independence.

Many issues can cause balance deficits. Some include feeling lightheaded due to medications, blood pressure issues, and other problems within the inner ear or the brain. The presence of dizziness constitutes the significant predictor of falls in the elderly, which are the leading cause of injury and accidental death after the age of 65 years.

The most common cause of dizziness is a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV.

How is BPPV Diagnosed?

In this video, Wayne Foley, MPT and Dr. Dominique Bagby, PT, DPT from our Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy (Gold Canyon location) show us how they test and treat Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

Balance Physical Therapy, A Hands-On Customized Approach to Addressing Balance

Physical therapists can offer numerous options for treating balance problems based on each person’s needs. There are several significant components your body uses that assist with your balance.


Your vision helps your brain to organize where it is in space. Commonly where there are deficits in other areas that affect balance, individuals can become reliant on vision. It is not unusual to have a patient who can stand perfectly still on a single leg with their eyes open and quickly become a fall risk after closing their eyes.

Women getting her eyes checked.


(perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body)
Close your eyes and move your arm over your head. Knowing where your arm is without seeing it is proprioception. Issues with proprioception can range from decreased sensation, not uncommon in the lower extremities and a common factor with balance disturbances, to a weakness that limits the patient’s ability to stabilize.

Vestibular system

Your vestibular system is responsible for letting your body know when you are accelerating. Patients may present with issues such as turning over in bed, causing uncontrolled spinning, and a sense of vertigo. This can come from several causes, including problems with the sensory organ itself to the nerves that conduct these signals.

Balance is vital for health, wellness, and happiness. There are things that you can do now to prevent a decline in your ability to balance.

Tips to Help Avoid Problems of Balance:

  • Keep moving and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Begin a regular fitness regimen and make efforts to take the stairs, walk more, or do other daily activities that keep you active.
  • Have yearly check-ups for vision and check for medication interactions.
  • Manage any chronic diseases, such as diabetes, which has long-term side effects on balance.
  • Report any falls to your primary care physician or physical therapist immediately.

Senior couple doing yoga.

What to Expect When Coming to Foothills Physical Therapy

PT, helping client improve balance.Balance is one of the fundamentals of a healthy, active body. Having a strong sense of balance and awareness of the elements around you can help you react swiftly and prevent injuries and accidents from happening.

Depending on your presentation, we will create a hands-on plan to address your specific deficits to improve your balance and stability. A Foothills Physical Therapist will run several tests to determine how unstable you are with dynamic movement and what components are the limiting factors. Whether your limitations prevent you from performing a higher-level activity such as dancing or learning to use an assistive device to help balance, we will always have your Full Recovery Focus guiding your treatment plan.

Foothills provides an affordable, individualized, and professionally supervised program designed to build and maintain a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance. Our highly trained staff is here to properly evaluate and quickly identify your balance concerns giving you the confidence to get you back to doing the things you love.
Visit the location nearest you to get your balance back!

Wayne Foley

by Wayne Foley
MPT | Gold Canyon Location

+ Share this content…


Related Articles

Concussion Signs, Treatments, and Recovery

Concussion Signs, Treatments, and Recovery

by Andrea Ciochetti, PT, MPT, CSCS | North Central Phoenix location It has only been in recent years that concussions have been taken more seriously, with increased awareness, education, and management. A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury. Causes...

Subscribe to receive our latest Dr. written content (solutions and wellness tips) delivered fresh to your inbox. It's FREE!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We are Medical HIPPA Compliant and will not share your information with anyone.