I am the massage therapist for a retirement community ranging in age from late sixties to late nineties. Working with this group is challenging because of the many age related conditions that can develop with advancing years. One of my clients has been experiencing dizziness for a number of years and it has been getting worse. This is the story of Mary* and her loss of vestibular sense.
Mary is 85 years old and lives on the skilled nursing floor. She has been a client of mine for seven years and received massage twice a month until about a year ago. Five years ago she started commenting on a mild dizziness that seemed to come and go both in duration and intensity. She was still quite active and self-sufficient.
As time passed, she noticed her dizziness becoming more constant. Some days were better than others, but I could see that she was walking with hesitancy as if she were focusing on her balance and how her feet and body were moving. Mary began to touch a wall or another person when she walked because she said it made her feel steadier. She would hug me and ask if I could feel her spinning. Sometimes she felt the room moving and other times she felt like she was moving. She developed a fear of falling.
*Name changed to protect identity*
Next: Dizziness in the Elderly: A Story of Aging and Vertigo, Part 2