As You Age - Dexterity, Tremors and Balance

Publication Date: 
Mon, 02/01/2016
By: Alere Staff

From the moment we are born, we began aging. It is an undeniable fact. Changes in the bodies and abilities of babies and children are noticeable as they develop and age. Changes to our body and functions that we experience into middle-age and as older adults may not appear as noticeable. Awareness of these changes and how to live safely with them can make all the difference in living a healthy, enjoyable life. 

Dexterity, tremors and balance are three big aging changes.

Body movements, including dexterity and steadiness, are controlled by the central nervous system (CNS) which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. 

Naturally in aging, the CNS shrinks some as it loses nerve cells and weight.1 The nerves that make up the CNS also begin to transmit messages more slowly than they did at a younger age. This breakdown of nerve tissue can leave some waste in the tissue which can cause some changes in movement and ultimately, safety.1

Balance changes are very common as we age into later adulthood and can be rooted in many causes. Changes to the amount of weight carried by your legs and hips can effect standing and walking.2 More weight can make it difficult to do these steadily. Disease states such as diabetes or Parkinson’s which can more readily manifest themselves in later years of age are common culprits of balance changes.  Unfortunately balance changes present increased risk of injury for people, especially when it comes to falling.

Healthy living, including nutritious, balanced eating and regular physical exercise, goes a long way in allowing for continued agility and activity, as long as we are aware of some of the changes and potential limitations our bodies are experiencing. Taking an inventory of fall-risks and obstacles in the home and making the appropriate adjustments for safety can also be very important. Ongoing communication with your healthcare providers is essential to staying on top of potential underlying causes for changes in dexterity, balance and steady movement, but staying as active as you are able is always the right thing to do.

References:

  1. Martin, L.J., MD, MPH et al. Aging Changes in the Nervous System. MedlinePlus. Oct. 27, 2014. Retrieved from the website:https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004023.htm.
  2. Mousseau, J. Effects of Aging on Balance. Mind, Body and Soul. March 12, 2010. Retrieved from the website:http://www.mademan.com/mm/effects-aging-balance.html.
  3. Tremor Fact Sheet. NINDS. Publication date July 6, 2015. NIH Publication No. 12-4734. Retrieved from the website:http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tremor/detail_tremor.htm.