Balance and aging

Laryngoscope. 1999 Sep;109(9):1454-60. doi: 10.1097/00005537-199909000-00019.


Objectives/hypothesis: To provide a basic science and clinical review of normal balance changes with age, and to provide a current review for the evaluation and treatment of elderly patients with balance disorders. As we age, we lose balance function through loss of sensory elements, the ability to integrate information and issue motor commands, and because we lose musculoskeletal function. Diseases common in aging populations lead to further deterioration in balance function in some patients. Treatment of balance dysfunction in aging populations is based on the knowledge of normal aging processes and on an evaluation of the individual's balance loss and remaining balance elements. Prevention and rehabilitation play a major role in treatment; medical and surgical therapy also have a place.

Study design and methods: Review of literature, personal research and observations.

Results and conclusions: Although older patients may be subject to most of the common balance disorders of younger patients, they have more problems with chronic disequilibrium and falls. Prevention and rehabilitation play an important role in treating these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Sensation Disorders / physiopathology*