Posted on 22/09/2020

Ways to help support someone with a balancing disorder

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The 20th - 26th September is Balance Awareness Week, raising awareness about balance-related vestibular disorders. These can have a huge, yet often unseen, impact on people’s lives and come with a wide range of symptoms that may include dizziness or vertigo.

 

How can I help support a relative I’m caring for with a vestibular disorder?

It’s difficult to tell or predict when someone may be affected by symptoms of their illness. They may be fine one moment and experiencing vertigo or dizziness in the next.[1]

It’s always important to get your relative to speak with a GP if you or they have any concerns about symptoms of dizziness or loss of balance, as there may be treatment options that they can try.

You may also want to look at household aids or mobility aids to help them go about their daily lives with a little more confidence.

 

What aids may be useful?

Everyone’s needs are different, but the following are a good starting point for things to consider.

Reaching aids

The act of bending down or stretching up for something may trigger feelings of dizziness. While some may be able to squat down as an alternative, squatting may still make others dizzy or they may not be able to squat at all, which is where reaching aids come in.

Reaching aids like the NRS Combi Grabber remove some of the need to bend down or stretch to reach for something so they can avoid that sudden shift in their balance.

 

Grab rails

Grab rails installed at strategic points around their home can give them that little bit of extra support when they need it most. There are a variety of different options and styles so you can find one to suit their needs.

If they struggle with dizziness when getting up out of bed, they should try moving in stages to help with this:

  • Slowly sit up from lying down
  • Sit on the edge of the bed for a while
  • Use a bed rail, like the EasyFit NRS Bed Rail, for support while moving from sitting to standing

 

In the bathroom, rails like the Bathroom Safety Rail will give them extra support while moving around the room. It’s possible to get grab rails with a dual purpose, like the Spa Towel Integrated Grab Rail which gives them support and a place to hang their towel. Grab rails may also be helpful when they’re getting in and out of the bath, although this may not be suitable if their balancing issues are severe. In this case something like a bath board may be a safer option for them. Our Product Advice service is on hand to help if you’re not sure which product will be right for your relative.

If you don’t want to permanently install a grab rail, suction grab rails are also available. These provide support without being drilled into the wall. They’re also useful for travelling as they can be moved from place to place. It’s important to know that suction grab rails are designed to be placed on smooth, non-porous surfaces, so may not be suitable in every room. You should also keep in mind that suction grab rails are only designed to provide minimal support and won’t support someone’s bodyweight.

 

Walking sticks

A walking stick can provide a little extra support while they walk around to help prevent them from falling should dizziness strike when they are out and about. They come in a variety of colours and styles so you can easily find something to suit your relative’s needs and personal taste – you can even get walking sticks that fold down or come with a seat attached!

You can find our full range of walking sticks here.

 

If you need any help when choosing an aid or have a question about any of our products, please contact our in-house Product Advice service on 0345 121 8111 or email [email protected]

For more details on Balance Awareness Week and to get a free information pack about dizziness and balance disorders, please contact the Ménière’s Society on 01306 876883 or visit their website.

 

[1] https://www.menieres.org.uk/files/pdfs/Family_Friends_Employers.pdf

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