Life Can Be A Balancing Act

We often take good balance for granted, until we have an experience of feeling dizzy or unsteady.  Feeling off-balance can be a startling and scary feeling, and you are right to take your symptoms seriously.  Many people experience issues with balance as they age, but you shouldn’t assume it’s just something you have to live with. Balance problems can be temporary, but you don’t want to take a chance of it leading to something more serious.  It is important to discuss any problems you are having with your physician.  You shouldn’t hesitate to mention any concerns you may have, regardless of how insignificant you may think it is.

Some of the symptoms and signs may include “dizziness or vertigo (a spinning sensation); falling or feeling as if you are going to fall; lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation; or blurred vision, confusion or disorientation. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and fear, anxiety, or panic. Some people also feel tired, depressed, or unable to concentrate.  Symptoms may come and go over short time periods or last for longer periods of time.”1 An inner ear infection or upper respiratory infection may be causing your dizziness and can be treated. You can help prevent viral infections that may cause balance problems by avoiding stress, fatigue, smoking, and alcohol.

Nearly 8 million American adults report having chronic problems with balance, and many are Medicare beneficiaries who are at risk of suffering severe injuries and loss of independence because of falls caused by a loss of balance.2 It is so important to do what you can to prevent falls caused by a loss of balance.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “more than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths.”3

Staying as strong and healthy as possible is a great start to preventing falls.  There are fitness programs designed for Medicare beneficiaries that emphasize balance training, and many Medicare Advantage plans even include fitness memberships in their benefits.  If you don’t know if your benefits include a fitness center membership, contact your plan or review your Evidence of Coverage.  Medicare covers balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders them to see if you need medical treatment. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies. In a hospital outpatient setting, you also pay the hospital a copayment.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

1 www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/balance/pages/balance_disorders.aspx

2 nihseniorhealth.gov/balanceproblems/aboutbalanceproblems/01.html ; About Balance Problems

3 nihseniorhealth.gov/balanceproblems/aboutbalanceproblems/01.html ; About Balance Problems

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