What Are the Causes of Dizziness in the Elderly?

Dizziness in the Elderly
lightheadedness and dizziness in older adults

Causes of Dizziness in the Elderly

Dizziness is a common problem in the elderly. In fact, 25 percent of people over the age of 72 reports experiencing dizziness and imbalance. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as problems with balance, inner ear disorders, and medication side effects.

This article will walk you through some of the most common causes of dizziness in elderly individuals, as well as a few ways to prevent and treat them.

Low Iron Levels

Iron deficiencies are a common problem amongst the elderly population, as many of their dietary sources have been cut off. Low iron levels can be associated with dizziness, particularly if they lead to anemia. This is because hemoglobin helps transport oxygen around your body and deliver it to the brain, so without enough, you may feel lightheaded or otherwise dizzy.

Solution: Eat a Balanced Diet

The best way to prevent low iron levels is to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of meat, poultry, and fish. You can also get your iron from leafy green vegetables, legumes, and fortified cereals.

If you struggle to make these changes, then you can try working with a home health assistant who can help you with shopping and planning a healthy diet.

If you are still experiencing dizziness after making dietary changes, you may need to take an iron supplement. Be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any supplements, as too much iron can be dangerous.

Medication Side Effects

One of the most common causes of dizziness in the elderly is medication side effects, particularly medications for cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation. Medications used to treat these conditions can cause problems with balance, making it easier to fall over when standing up.

Other medications frequently associated with dizziness in the elderly parents or people include hypertension medications, analgesics (pain relievers), sedatives, and diuretics. Antidepressants have also been linked to a significant number of falls.

Solution: Talk to Your Doctor

Many times, doctors do not realize that a medication is causing a problem until a patient reports it. Your best course of action when experiencing dizziness due to medication is to report the issue to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to switch you to equally effective but less problematic medication, or he or she might have suggestions for ways that you can compensate for the side effects until they go away.

dizziness in old people
Inner ear disorders can cause dizziness

Inner Ear Issues

Inner ear issues and hearing loss are common causes of dizziness in the elderly. The inner ear is responsible for encoding your sense of balance, which makes it extremely sensitive to changes in body position and the acceleration of movement. Inner ear disorders can be caused by aging or infections such as influenza.

Another significant reason for dizziness related to the inner ear is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). BPPV is a common inner ear disorder that causes the specific sensation of spinning.

Inner ear disorders can also be caused by tumors, trauma to the head or neck, and acoustic neuromas. These last two issues are significantly more dangerous than BPPV or aging-related inner ear disorders and should be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible.

Solution: See a Doctor

If you are experiencing dizziness that does not go away after a few minutes, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, or vision changes, it is important to see a doctor. Many inner ear disorders can be treated relatively easily with medicine or physical therapy, but they can also be a sign of a more serious problem.

Overheating and Dehydration

Overheating and dehydration are both common causes of dizziness in the elderly, particularly amongst those who live alone. It is easy to become overheated if you live in a poorly-designed house or an area with large temperature swings during the year.

A number of medications can also lead to overheating and fluid loss, including diuretics, antihistamines, and decongestants. Caffeine and alcohol can also contribute to dehydration.

Solution: Drink Plenty of Fluids and Stay Cool

The best way to prevent overheating and dehydration are to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. It is also important to avoid caffeine and alcohol and to stay in the shade or use a parasol if you are outside.

For those who live alone and can easily forget to drink water, a senior home health care center could be a great option!

Circulation Issues

Circulation issues can also lead to dizziness in the elderly. This is because poor circulation can lead to a decreased supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which can cause you to feel lightheaded or dizzy.

Poor circulation can be caused by many types of health problems, including a stroke or a blocked artery. It can even be caused by something as simple as cold weather.

Solution: Exercise Regularly

The best way to improve your circulation is to exercise regularly by walking, swimming, or riding a bike. If you are unable to exercise on your own, then you can work with a home health assistant in Seminole to create a regular exercise routine.

If you are experiencing dizziness and have other circulation problems, it can also be useful to speak with a doctor. Many of these issues can be treated with medication or surgery.

senior home health care
Be careful with circulation problems

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health problems in the elderly. Both can lead to feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, or vertigo.

Solution: Seek Treatment

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, it is important to seek treatment and learn techniques to cope with it. This can be done through therapy or medication.

Additionally, some senior home health care is equipped to help elderly residents who are struggling with mental health problems. If you feel like you may be experiencing anxiety or depression, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.


There are a number of different causes of dizziness in the elderly, but many of them can be prevented with some simple changes. Eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of fluids, and exercising regularly are all great ways to stay healthy and avoid dizziness. If you are experiencing dizziness despite making these changes, be sure to speak with your doctor. There may be an underlying health issue causing your dizziness.

Author: Margaret Heafield is a health and wellness writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition from the University of Central Florida and is currently working with No Place Home Care. Margaret enjoys writing about all aspects of health and wellness, with a particular focus on nutrition and diet. When she's not writing, Margaret enjoys hiking, swimming, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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