As we get older, we slow down. Even the simple task of walking may not come as easily as it used to. Many people experiencing difficulty walking will simply shrug it off as a natural consequence of aging.
It's incredibly important to take mobility problems seriously. If you find that you are frequently losing your balance, tripping, and even falling, do not continue to go about your daily life without being looked at by a podiatrist. Falls can be extremely dangerous for elderly people and can sometimes have fatal consequences.
An unsteady gait can stem from any great number of issues, but there are a few that relate more directly to aging:
- Parkinson's Disease. If you have what's called a propulsive gait, you may be suffering from Parkinson's disease. A propulsive gait is marked by a stiff, stooped-over posture; the head and neck are bent over. Your steps may be getting shorter while you try to move faster, and that can cause trips and falls.
- Alzheimer's Disease. When your gait becomes slower and less controlled, this is sometimes a sign that cognitive function is declining. Thinking and walking are very closely linked. You may notice a difference if you are walking and trying to talk to think about something at the same time.
- Medication. As we get older, it's common to be prescribed certain medications for various chronic ailments. Some medications will have side effects that can cause dizziness, impaired vision, or other problems that can affect how you walk. You also might be prescribed a few medicines that are fine on their own, but may not work too well together in your body. If you are on medication and you suspect that it is causing instability while you walk, notify your doctor immediately so she can review your case. You may find relief is your physician can change your dosage or prescribe a new medication altogether.
There are so many physical changes as we age that it can be hard to figure out the root of certain problems. It's important to stay tuned in to your body and if something isn't feeling right or your gait is becoming increasingly unsteady, make an appointment with your doctor.