Balance and the Inner Ear

Before we can talk about how balance is affected by your inner ear, we need to talk about the functions of your ear. The 2 major roles of the ear are hearing and maintaining balance.

Sounds vibrations cross the eardrum to the inner ear causing you to hear. These vibrations are switched into nerve signals in the inner ear and then are carried to the brain by the auditory nerve.

Balance or equilibrium is controlled also by the inner ear. Small hairs and fluid in the inner ear stimulate the auditory nerve to help the brain maintain balance.

As you age, the structures inside the ear start to change as well. Your ability to pick up sounds may decrease. You may also have problems maintaining your balance as you sit, stand or walk.

Did you know there are exercises to help with your balance and equilibrium? You can build up the tolerance in your brain to overcome dizziness through regular exercise. By doing vestibular exercises repetitively, you can train the brain to adapt. We must seek out and overcome the positions or situations which cause the dizziness. Avoiding them will only prolong and bring on potentially more issues such as isolation, depression and falls.

Vestibular exercises will

  • train movement of the eyes, independent of your head
  • practice balance in everyday situations
  • practice head movements that cause dizziness
  • become accustomed to moving about naturally in the daylight and in the dark
  • re-build confidence in making easy, relaxed, spontaneous, movements.

So how do you start these exercises? Please talk to your Wellness Director to discuss a plan which could include a physician’s appointment, a referral to physical therapy   and/ or our Wellness Aide Program.

Not yet a resident of our wonderful Hearth communities? Would you like to find out more about the Wellness services offered in our communities? Click here to find and contact a local Hearth community near you!

Written by: Janet L. Haynes, Vice President of Clinical Services for Hearth Management

janets-pictureJanet has been in the Health Care field since the mid 1980’s to include positions in the areas of Resident Activities, Care Aide, Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse and Executive Director in the fields of Home Care, Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living. Janet has been with Hearth Management since 1996 holding various positions from Director of Nursing, Administrative Assistant and Executive Director of Castle Gardens. Currently, as the Director of Clinical Services she oversees and coordinates Resident Care and Services, State Regulatory Compliance, Employee/Resident Retention, In-services and Training for Hearth Communities. Janet has extensive experience in Memory Care to include the development of Hearth’s “Care Connect” Program. She is a former board member for the Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York. Janet is an ALFA Champion Award Recipient, participated in ALFA’s Clinical Round Table and recognized for her accomplishment with the Southern Tier 20 under 40 Award. Janet’s primary role as Director of Clinical Services is overseeing our Medical Departments for regulatory compliance and quality assurance activities to provide a high standard of care to our residents.

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