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Managing Vertigo in Seniors

If your parent has been complaining about the room spinning or feeling unsteady on her feet, she might be suffering from vertigo. Vertigo is a symptom of various things that could be occurring in a person’s body and causes someone to feel dizzy and off-balance while having a sensation that the room is spinning around. It can be a bit frightening the first time it happens, but vertigo is generally not serious.

Vertigo tends to occur more often in women and those who are over 65. If you are caring for an elderly parent, she might find herself experiencing vertigo at some point because 40% of the population will get a spell of it occasionally. Most attacks only last a few seconds or minutes and are often compared to motion sickness, where the room seems to be rocking, spinning, or tilting.

Some common vertigo causes can be:

  • Migraine headaches.
  • Some medications.
  • Prolonged bed rest.
  • Stroke.
  • Arrhythmia.
  • Diabetes.
  • Head injuries.
  • Shingles in or near the ear.
  • Peri lymphatic fistula (when inner ear fluid leaks into the middle ear).
  • Hyperventilation.
  • Low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension) – a condition in which blood pressure decreases when a person stands up.
  • Ataxia, or muscle weakness.
  • Syphilis.
  • Otosclerosis (a bone growth problem affecting the middle ear).
  • Brain disease.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Acoustic neuroma.

If your parent is suffering from consistent vertigo, finding the cause of this nauseating symptom will be very important. There will be several tests your parent’s doctor can do to help determine the exact cause.

While caring for an elderly loved one, one of the biggest concerns may be your loved one stumbling and falling when vertigo sets in. It may be beneficial to hire an elder care provider to be on hand to assist your parent in household chores when vertigo sets in or help your parent traverse up and down the stairs, and even across the room when the vertigo is strong.

There are also several precautionary steps your parent can take to prevent or lessen the onset of vertigo.

  1. Your parent should take her time standing up, turning her head, and making any other movements that may trigger vertigo (such as looking up quickly). An elder care provider can help her stand up slowly if vertigo sets in.
  2. When vertigo sets in, sitting down as soon as she feels dizzy will help reduce the risk of falling. She should grab the elbow of someone who is around and have them walk her to the nearest seat and see if she can wait out the vertigo attack.
  3. Sleep with her head elevated by two pillows. Some vertigo attacks are triggered when lying prone in bed and can make getting out of bed difficult. If your parent still lives alone, even if she has an elder care provider come by during the day, she’ll need to develop techniques to get out of bed safely in the morning. The two pillow trick may prevent the vertigo from even setting in.
  4. If something needs to be picked up, encourage your parent to squat to pick it up instead of bending over.


If you or an aging loved one is considering elder care in Phoenix, AZ, please call the caring staff at Golden Heart Senior Care of Scottsdale at (480) 284-7360. We are here to help!

5 Things that Interfere with a Senior’s Sleep

There are many things that can affect a senior’s ability to sleep soundly and get the rest they need. Getting adequate sleep is very important for the body’s immune system, fighting infection and disease, physical health, mental functioning and coping with stress. If a senior isn’t getting enough sleep, it should be brought to the doctor’s attention.

1- Aging Naturally Changes Sleep Patterns

It’s common for seniors to naturally get tired earlier, wake up earlier, and sometimes wake up in the night due to natural changes in their brain as they age. As adults age, the brain’s “master clock center ” (the suprachiasmatic nucleus) leads to changes in the senior’s circadian rhythms, which influence things like when the body feels sleepy or alert.

2- Health Conditions

There are numerous health conditions that can interrupt a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and nocturia are just a few. Many seniors have multiple health conditions at once, which add up to a big risk for disturbed sleep.

3- Medications

A number of medications can interfere with sleep. Talk to the doctor or pharmacist about whether any of your medications may be interrupting yours.

4- Pain

Not only can pain contribute to sleeplessness, but sleeplessness can in turn, make pain worse, which can quickly turn into a vicious cycle.

5- Caring for a Loved One Throughout the Night

Being a family caregiver can be wonderfully rewarding, but when sleep is disrupted every night in order to care for your family loved one’s needs, it can severely impact your health.

How Elder Care can Support a Senior’s Sleep

Elder care services can help seniors and family caregivers who are struggling to get enough shut-eye to feel and function at their best.

Regular Exercise Support

Elder care aides can walk with seniors routinely, a practice that many seniors find enjoyable, motivating and reassuring. Elder care aides can help with transportation to the pool, gym or balance class, strolls through the park or out in the garden. Regular activity has been shown to promote better sleep, and getting outside for sunshine and fresh air only enhances the effect.

Consistent Sleeping Schedule and Bedtime Routine

An important step in good sleep “hygiene”, as they say, is to get up and go to bed at the same time each day. Many seniors find this to be much easier with the assistance of an elder care aide, who can show up at the same time each morning and assist with morning routines, personal care, walks, breakfast or other needs.

A bedtime routine can be especially powerful when you include a few soothing features to get your body and mind ready to rest.

  • Allow time to wind down with the lights dimmed
  • Listen to calming music
  • Drink some chamomile tea
  • Enjoy relaxing aromatherapy
  • Take a warm bath
  • Gently rub lotion on your back, legs or feet

Overnight Assistance for Loved Ones

Some families find that when elder care can take care of a senior’s needs during the night, the family caregiver is able to get much better sleep and find themselves in a much better health, spirits and position for caregiving. Savvy family caregivers may arrange for the night elder care aide to take care of the laundry, clean the cat box or put away the dishes while they are there, which can buy valuable time and energy for the next day.


If you or an aging loved one is considering hiring elder care in Phoenix, AZ, please call the caring staff at Golden Heart Senior Care of Scottsdale at (480) 284-7360. We are here to help!