Body parts may shake or tremble due to tremors, which are rhythmic, involuntary movements.
Tremors can strike anyone at any age, so shakiness is not just a problem for the elderly.
They may occasionally be entirely benign and normal, while in other circumstances, they may indicate a severe medical condition.
In this article, we will focus on elderly hand tremors, discuss their possible causes, disclose treatment options and offer recommendations to stop them.
What Is Elderly Hand Shaking in the Elderly?
Elderly populations may shake due to minor problems that go away on their own or due to underlying diseases.
There is a higher likelihood that you will develop trembling if movement disorders run in your family. Age-related tremor is also probably a common symptom of neurodegeneration.
Elderly patients who experience involuntary movements do so frequently and rarely in a life-threatening way.
Even a relatively benign tremor can affect a person’s ability to perform some types of daily activities resulting from cognitive impairment.
However, people who develop hand trembling after the age of 70 do have higher rates of mortality and dementia.
What Causes Hand Tremors in Seniors?
Why do older people tremble?
The causes of tremors in the elderly are frequently chronic conditions that can progress on their own.
Trembling and involuntary movement disorder can result from a variety of certain factors.
We’ll look at the circumstances frequently connected to tremors and shaking in old age below.
1. Essential Tremor
Essential tremor is a common movement disorder that can hurt the quality of life; one or both hands may be affected.
Even though there is no cure, there are therapies and treatment options that can help with symptom management.
2. Parkinson’s Disease
The brain’s nerve cells are aging, leading to trembling and cognitive function deficits.
Parkinson disease patients experience a cognitive decline, loss of muscle control, and a general shortening of life.
3. Huntington’s Disease
The symptoms appear between 30 and 50, an inherited condition that shortens life expectancy and causes the brain to deteriorate.
Uncontrollable movements of the arms, legs, head, face, and upper body are the identifications of this illness.
Additionally, it impairs thinking and reasoning.
4. Caffeine Toxicity
You may also experience anxiety, restlessness, agitation, stomachaches, an irregular heartbeat, insomnia, and other tremors.
Caffeine consumption causes the “fight or flight” hormone, adrenaline, to be released, which can cause shaking in old age.
5. Drug-Related Side Effects
The following prescription medications may cause a slight tremor as a side effect:
- Excess thyroid medication
- Epinephrine and norepinephrine
- High blood pressure drugs
- Alcohol abuse
- Mood stabilizers
- Asthma medication
- Seizure medication
- Cancer treatments
6. Overactive Thyroid
Millions of people have an overactive thyroid gland, which constantly causes your body to overdrive.
Your hands may tremble as a result of your overexcited nerves.
Additionally, you might experience a racing heart, weight loss, ravenous hunger, sweating, fatigue, and heat intolerance. It is advisable for thyroid function tests.
7. Alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal
After your last drink, this tremor may start as soon as 10 hours later and last for several weeks.
Alcoholics in recovery should only cut back on their alcohol consumption. Rehab and detox programs may offer medication to help with tremors.
When your body is hypoglycemic, your muscles and nerves lack blood sugar, their primary energy source. It may cause your hands to tremble.
Due to your body’s propensity to react to danger when you’re anxious, your muscles may twitch or shake.
Psychogenic tremor is another name for anxiety tremors.
10. Hereditary Propensity
Genetics is a factor in passing on a tremor. A tremor is more likely to appear in people whose family history includes movement disorders.
What Are the Different Types of Elderly Hand Shaking?
Tremors can occur in a particular position while resting or moving your body.
Rest tremors develop when a patient tries to keep a body part in its relaxed position — a person with basal ganglia damage experiences resting tremors.
Postural tremor occurs when the patient tries to maintain a posture against gravity, such as holding the arms out in front of the body.
Moving the afflicted body part from one place to another can cause an action tremor.
1. Action Tremor
Essential Tremor (ET) frequently coexists with an action tremor.
A type of tremor known as an “action tremor” is caused by the voluntary contraction of muscles.
2. Physiologic Tremor
Since it is a byproduct of normal human bodily processes, you won’t typically notice it.
Your heartbeat and blood circulation throughout your body cause your muscles to pulse naturally.
3. Enhanced Physiologic Tremor
Instead of a disease, hypoglycemia, alcohol, or a drug reaction can cause enhanced physiologic tremor, a more noticeable form of the tremor that healthy people experience.
4. Cerebellar Tremor
The most common causes of shakiness are the following:
- Multiple small infarcts from a stroke
- Other chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis
- Injury to the brain from a stroke
Post-traumatic tremors happen AFTER a traumatic brain injury. They mainly occur following a cerebellar stroke.
5. Psychogenic Tremor
Stress, anxiety, depression, or an underlying psychological condition like PTSD can cause psychogenic tremors.
6. Parkinsonian Tremor
Not everyone who has it does. Typically, one or both hands will exhibit tremors while at rest.
Even though the disease may begin on one side of the body, as it progresses, it may also spread to the other side.
7. Orthostatic Tremor
Orthostatic Tremor is highly uncommon and has a distinction of rapid shaking that is typically invisible to the naked eye.
What Medications Can Cause Hand Tremors
The following is a partial list of some of the typical drugs or drug classes that might make your hands tremble.
Speak with your healthcare provider if you take drugs and notice your hands trembling.
Without your doctor’s approval, never stop taking any medications.
1. Albuterol, Salmeterol, and Formoterol Inhalers
Beta-agonist drugs are for asthma remedies and other lung conditions in the inhalers for albuterol, salmeterol, and formoterol. Several well-known brands are:
- Ventolin (albuterol)
- Proair (albuterol)
- Proventil (albuterol)
- Serevent (salmeterol)
- Brovana (arformoterol)
Up to 20% of those taking some medications may experience tremors. However, the likelihood of this side effect varies between drugs.
Larger doses increase the chance of tremors.
A heart drug called amiodarone (Pacerone) is for people with arrhythmias (heart rhythm irregularities).
Amiodarone-induced tremor can happen any time after taking the drug and typically goes away three months after the dose is reduced or stopped.
3. Tricyclic Antidepressants
Amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA), is a medication for depression, chronic headaches, and nerve pain.
Physiological tremors, which occur naturally, can be made more noticeable by TCAs. But over time, this tremor usually goes away.
4. SSRI and SNRI Antidepressants
Serotonin, norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the cure for depression and anxiety.
By influencing naturally occurring chemicals in the brain, they may cause tremors in your hand and twitch. Tremors can also result from stopping these medications too soon.
Levothyroxine-containing medications (Synthroid, Levoxyl) are the remedy for hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones).
Contact your healthcare provider if you start to experience trembling in your hands while taking levothyroxine.
Your levels of thyroid hormone may be checked.
Up to 65% of people who take lithium, a mood stabilizer used to treat bipolar disorder, experience trembling in their hands.
Usually, reducing lithium dosages or quitting the drug can eliminate tremors. But don’t stop taking your lithium without first consulting your doctor.
7. Valproate (Valproic Acid or Divalproex Sodium)
Valproate is a cure for seizures, prevents migraines, and stabilizes mood. Tremors could appear in nearly 15% of people taking either.
Tremors brought on by valproate may be related to low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, among other chemicals.
8. Metoclopramide and Prochlorperazine
Prochlorperazine and metoclopramide, two drugs that are a cure to nausea, can make you shaky by blocking dopamine receptors.
Discontinued use of these dopamine agonists and decreased dosage can lessen tremor symptoms.
One study with three participants found that taking propranolol was also beneficial.
9. Immunosuppressants (Cyclosporine and Tacrolimus)
Due to the potential for cyclosporine to worsen your natural physiological tremor, up to 40% of people who take it may experience trembling hands and shaky hands.
10. Typical Antipsychotics
Shaky hands or other movement disorders are less common side effects of these more recent antipsychotics.
However, if you must continue taking atypical antipsychotic drugs, amantadine (Gocovri, Osmolex ER) or benztropine may help your trembling hands.
What Treatment Can You Apply for Tremors in the Elderly?
Not every person with trembling hands needs medical attention.
However, if your doctor thinks you’re a good candidate, they might start by prescribing medicine.
Selecting a treatment course should be given based on the patient’s lifestyle and personal interests.
Here are the recommendations that you can consider in your treatment plan:
Frequently Prescribed Drugs
The following drugs are a remedy to treat shaky hands:
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Primidone (Mysoline)
Propranolol is a beta-blocker designed to treat:
- Fast heart rate
Primidone is an antiseizure medication. If these don’t help you, your doctor might suggest other drugs.
The beta-blockers metoprolol (Lopressor) and atenolol (Tenormin) are a remedy for essential tremor.
If other drugs don’t relieve your tremor, your doctor might recommend one of these, but it might not work as well as propranolol.
Other Antiseizure Medications
Other drugs like topiramate (Topamax) and gabapentin (Neurontin) are a cure for psychiatric or neurological disorders like seizures or neuropathic pain.
They might be advantageous for those who have an essential tremor.
Medication to Treat Anxiety
Early research suggested that alprazolam (Xanax), used to treat anxiety and panic disorders and cause trembling in the hands, may also help treat essential tremor.
Since this drug is addictive, patients should use it cautiously.
As a treatment for essential tremor that affects the hands, botulinum toxin type A (Botox) is promising.
Please discuss this medication’s potential risks and benefits with your doctor, as it may result in significant muscle weakness when injected.
Successful injection can have effects that last for up to three months. Perhaps additional botox injections are required.
How Can You Stop Hand Tremors Naturally?
To lessen or stop tremors, here are some lifestyle and home remedies you can try:
1. Diet Changes
For starters, let’s go over some adjustments you can make to your diet:
- Food – A Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables effectively prevents neurodegeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and essential tremor and improves overall health. Limit your dairy, meat, poultry, and alcohol intake if you follow a Mediterranean diet.
- Water – The recommended four to six cups of water per day can help flush out toxins that may be causing a tremor on your hand while also keeping the body hydrated.
- Caffeine – Because caffeine is a stimulant, cutting it out of your diet can also lessen the tremor in your hand. You can also get tremors from caffeine withdrawal if you regularly consume and stop.
- Alcohol – Alcohol depresses the central nervous system because it is a depressant. Alcohol withdrawal and binge drinking both have the potential to cause hand tremors.
2. Vitamin B12
For the nervous system to remain in good shape, vitamin B12 is crucial. Hand tremors may develop due to vitamin B12, B-6, or B-1 deficiency.
You can get vitamin B12 by taking a pill, getting an injection, or eating certain foods.
Natural vitamin B12 includes meat, milk, eggs, and animal products.
3. Wrist and Hand Exercises
One simple exercise you can do throughout the day is to squeeze a stress ball or hand grip for two to ten seconds, release it, and repeat it on each hand.
Your muscle control can also be strengthened and improved by curling a light hand weight while your arms are resting on a table and your palms are facing up.
4. A Heavy-Duty Hand Glove
An item of adaptive equipment created by occupational therapists is a weighted glove.
The weights of the gloves vary.
The gloves increase hand stability for tremor sufferers and may lessen their need for surgical intervention.
Hand tremors can be from stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems. If stress causes tremors, creating a calm environment may be worthwhile.
You can also try out these RELAXATION TECHNIQUES:
- Deep breathing exercises
While lowering stress in the body and mind, physical therapy can also help muscles in the hands affected by tremors.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the frequently asked tremor-related questions and their responses:
Is It Normal to Have Shaky Hands?
Yes, it’s typical to have shaking hands. It is especially true for those who are stressed, anxious, or haven’t gotten enough sleep.
Typically, mild hand tremors that don’t interfere with a person’s daily activities are not a cause for alarm.
When Should You Start Seeing a Doctor?
If a person’s tremors get worse or start to affect their daily living, they should see a doctor.
Anyone who experiences sudden tremors in their hands or other body parts should conduct a systematic evaluation to explore a correct diagnosis.
The diagnostic workup of tremor requires pertinent and thorough history taking, just like with other clinical presentations.
What Is Deep Brain Stimulation?
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure that treats movement disorders linked to Parkinson’s Disease (PD), essential tremor, dystonia, and others.
What Are the Causes and Treatments of Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease?
Most people with parkinsonism have idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, also known as Parkinson’s. Idiopathic denotes an unknown cause.
Second-line treatment for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease includes:
- Modified-release levodopa
- Catechol-o-methyltransferase inhibitor (COMT)
- Apomorphine (a dopamine agonist acting on D1 and D2 receptors in intermittent subcutaneous injection or continuous subcutaneous infusion).
Can a Resting Tremor Exist Without Parkinson’s Disease?
One of the defining characteristics of Parkinson’s disease is a resting tremor.
However, some patients typically only experience a resting tremor for at least five years before developing additional parkinsonian signs or symptoms.
Does Parkinson’s Cause Action Tremors?
The prevalence could reach 92 percent.
While some people think this tremor is unimportant, clinical experts believe moderate action tremors are more incapacitating than severe rest tremors.
Which Among the Races Has the Prevalence of Essential Tremors?
Essential tremor is more common as people age and may be more common in men and Caucasian people than elderly African Americans.
What Is a Cala Trio Treatment?
This noninvasive therapy involves a wristband that sends electrical signals to the brain, where they interfere with the network in the brain that controls tremors.
Everybody’s hands or other body parts experience tremors when they move or adopt a particular posture. It is known as a “physiologic tremor,” which is normal.
Stress or anxiety, caffeine use, and lack of sleep can amplify the tremor’s presence.
Sometimes, a severe tremor could indicate an underlying cause or a negative effect.
Anyone who develops tremors unexpectedly should seek medical attention immediately to get a diagnosis.