Causes of Dizziness in the Elderly

Senior woman on couch, holding hand to forehead, looking dizzy and distressed

Have you ever ridden on a carnival ride, like a merry-go-round? They’re a lot of fun, but sometimes you can feel a little dizzy afterward. Dizziness at the carnival can be a good time, but unexpected dizziness is a whole different story. Learn the causes of dizziness in the elderly to better understand why you’re experiencing this problem and how to prevent it. 

Causes of Dizziness in the Elderly

Dizziness is an unsettling feeling. One second you’re nice and stable, and the next you’re wobbling and trying to keep your balance. You also might feel faint, tired, or even a little nauseous. It can be worrying, but you should know that dizziness is extremely common for seniors. Understanding the causes of dizziness in the elderly can help you resolve it.

How Is Dizziness Diagnosed?

Dizziness actually refers to a wide range of symptoms that affect a person’s balance and stability.  If you’ve experienced any of the following symptoms recently, dizziness could be the cause:

  • A feeling of movement or swaying side to side, even if standing still or seated
  • Unexpectedly losing your balance
  • Feeling lightheaded or like you’re “floating”
  • Sudden dizziness accompanied by nausea or feeling faint

Dizziness can affect seniors in many different ways, but a typical bout of dizziness resolves itself in a few minutes. More severe cases can last hours, or even days. No matter how you’re experiencing dizziness, it’s worth discussing with a doctor. 

What’s Making Me Dizzy?

Dizziness is common for seniors, but age doesn’t necessarily make you dizzy. Instead, dizziness is a common side effect of conditions related to aging. It can be a little annoying, but it can also be helpful in some situations. Dizziness gives you a heads up that it’s time to get the help you need with the following conditions:

  • Vertigo. Vertigo is caused by fluid or pressure changes that affect the inner ear. They can make the world feel “wobbly” and unstable, and even make it difficult to walk. If you’re experiencing vertigo, talk to your doctor right away.
  • Blood pressure issues. As you age, sometimes your body’s ability to circulate blood declines. As a result, seniors sometimes experience lightheadedness when they stand or move around. On the other side of the coin, seniors can also experience dizziness when blood pressure is too high. Either way, it’s in your best interest to have your doctor monitor your blood pressure at your regular check-ups. 
  • Medications. Dizziness is a very common side effect of many different medications. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what you’re experiencing, and ask for help managing side effects if needed.
  • Anxiety issues. This may seem like an odd one, but interruptions in your normal breathing patterns can be caused by anxiety. A lack of oxygen can lead to dizziness. Our mental health and physical health are closely linked, and sometimes a physical symptom can be an important cue to get some assistance. That’s why it’s important to take care of your mental health as a senior. 
  • Nutritional issues. Dizziness can be caused by low iron in the blood or low blood sugar. Talk to your doctor about your diet, especially if you have diabetes or a similar condition.
  • Neurological issues. In rare cases, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s can first show up as dizziness. While this is rare, it is worth discussing with a doctor, especially if you have a family history of neurological issues.


If you’re experiencing dizziness, there’s no reason to be overly concerned. As you can see, dizziness is caused by a variety of issues, and most of them are actually fairly harmless once they’re resolved. Talk to your doctor about causes of dizziness in the elderly, and you’ll be feeling better before you know it.

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