As a family caregiver, you likely watch out for symptoms of illness in your aging relative. When an elderly person complains of dizziness, it could be no big deal. However, dizziness is also a common symptom of several different health issues and it should not be ignored. If your aging relative is frequently complaining about being dizzy, it’s time for a doctor’s appointment.
Dizzy Spells and Seniors
Everyone feels dizzy at some point in their lives, especially if they are battling an illness. However, frequent dizzy spells with no clear explanation can be a warning sign, especially in elderly adults. Family caregivers and senior care assistants must be on the lookout for dizziness in elderly adults and note the frequency and intensity.
Dizziness is often described as being lightheaded or experiencing a spinning feeling. Dizzy spells can lead to poor balance, problems with walking and even passing out. Some seniors even have nausea or throw up due to severe dizzy spells. Dizziness is often a key contributor to many slip and fall accidents, which can result in broken bones, head injuries and even fatalities. There’s no doubt that family caregivers and senior care providers should get the aging adult to a doctor if they see frequent dizzy spells.
What Causes Dizzy Spells in Seniors?
There are many conditions and illnesses that can trigger dizziness. Among the most common causes in elderly adults are dehydration, too much caffeine, alcohol consumption, malnutrition and as a side effect of certain medications. Medical causes of dizziness might be an inner ear infection, high blood pressure, vertigo, migraine headaches, low blood sugar, heat stress and anemia. It’s possible, but not common, for the dizziness to be a symptom of a brain tumor.
Sometimes dizziness is masked by other stronger symptoms, making it hard for family caregivers and senior care providers to distinguish what’s happening. Common symptoms with dizziness include fever, headaches, blurred vision, chest pain, tingling in the extremities and losing consciousness. Seniors should get to a doctor soon if they demonstrate any of these symptoms with dizziness.
What to Do When Seniors are Dizzy
When an elderly adult reports that they are feeling dizzy, there’s little time for delay. Family caregivers and senior care providers should have them sit right away, in the shade or a cool spot if possible. If they need to walk somewhere to sit down, they should be supported by the family caregiver or senior care provider, a cane or a walker. It’s a good idea to serve them water and something light and dry to nibble on, such as crackers, if they feel nauseated.
A minor dizzy spell should pass in about 10 to 15 minutes. If so, it was most likely heat, blood sugar or some other small cause. If the feelings don’t pass after that long or come back again and again, the elderly adult should get to the doctor soon. Dizzy spells are the body’s way of signaling that something is wrong, so wise family caregivers will listen up and get their loved one the help they need.