I think it is so important to chat to you about how balance affects confidence, I have seen it in myself and my mom who has Multiple Sclerosis. Not knowing when you are going to fall leaves you with a fear that is always there and I think its time we talked about it.
It is Balance Awareness Week which is set up by the Menieres Society and something that has affected my own and my mom’s life as we both battle chronic illnesses. I was trying to do some research for this article and could find hardly any information about confidence and balance that wasn’t written with the elderly in mind.
But many chronic illnesses affect balance, from problems with the inner ear, mobility issues and limb numbness being just a few of the reasons for balance issues I could think of. In fact when I looked back over this blog I found even I had not spoken about it and that shocked me! I can only think it is because it’s something I have always had so I just get on with it and forget it is such a big problem.
I was always thought of as clumsy as a child, and I was always in pain, now I know the pain was probably because of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Before I was diagnosed with that however, I was seeing a neurologist who wrongly diagnosed me with Multiple Sclerosis. When he said he had been wrong and he didn’t know what I had, he mentioned that I definitely had neurological issues that I had been born with but wouldn’t investigate them.
In reality, these undiagnosed issues, are a big problem and without a diagnosis it is difficult to get help with, mostly it leaves me with numbess in my limbs. This means I cannot feel my feet and not knowing where your feet are when walking leads to a lot of falls and what I call almosts!
I have confidence walking around our home because I know where things are to catch myself, but if we go out I always use a mobility aid. With either my walker, or a walking stick in hand I feel a lot more confidence and know people are unlikely to knock into me and cause me to fall. Without them I am a nervous wreck always afraid one wrong step with leave me sore and humiliated on the floor!
My mom and I started talking about how her mobility issues that came with a head injury and Multiple Sclerosis, her lack of confidence with her mobility means she rarely leaves the house now. She uses a walker around the house, and a wheelchair when out, but still finds herself terrified of falling every day.
In fact, the reason we moved in to look after her was because she had a fall when living alone and spent hours on the floor trying to get up. When she finally called and admitted she had fallen she was dehydrated and cold, she is doing a lot better now we live with her, but she still finds herself scared of falling.
She often lets out a gasp or asks me if she is going to fall, and it is so hard to see my mom struggling so much with her balance when she is still only in her 60s! I am in my 40s and I am often found walking into things or getting dizzy out of nowhere due to numbness and inner ear problems.
Neither of us are old, yet you can easily see how balance affects confidence when you meet us, we are two of so many who are younger who struggle with balance issues. So let’s stop assuming this is only something that affects the elderly and start the conversation and raising awareness.