FAQ: Why Does My Loved One Get Dizzy When She Stands Up?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 28, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Why does my loved one get dizzy when she stands up?

Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is a senior medical editor at Caring.com and a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics. She also provides housecalls and geriatric consultations in San Francisco.

She may have a condition known as orthostatic hypotension. This refers to a fall in blood pressure associated with standing up or otherwise changing position. During this time, reduced blood flow to the brain can cause dizziness, weakness, vision changes, or even passing out.

Studies have found that about 20 percent of adults ages 65 and older experience these changes in blood pressure (technically called "postural" or "orthostatic" changes). This happens because standing causes one's blood to temporarily pool in the legs. In younger, healthier people, the body almost instantly tightens blood vessels and makes other adjustments, so that the brain doesn't usually experience much drop in blood supply. However, this system tends to wear down and get slower with age. In an older adult, it can take longer for the blood vessels to adjust to a standing position. Although many people don't actually notice any dizziness or other symptoms, others may fall or feel off-balance.

Certain medications may cause, or worsen, orthostatic blood pressure changes. These include medications for high blood pressure or heart conditions, certain antidepressants, and some medicines for enlarged prostate.

Orthostatic hypotension can also be associated with dehydration, other acute illnesses, and some chronic diseases such as Parkinson's disease.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

When your loved one is sitting in a position for a length of time it is best to have him/her come forward on the chair/chesterfield allowing for some movement in the body. Your safest bet is to help him/her to get into a standing position and ask if they feel okay prior to them walking on their own. This will eliminate any dizziness or an actual fall.