Why do Old People Shake?

Shaking hands is common in the elderly, the older you get, the more likely it is that shaking will develop.

The biggest problem with shaking is that when it starts to occur, your mind will jump to the worst case scenario. How often have you had a minor problem, googled it and then been presented with scary worse case scenarios?!

Most shaking is common, but some can point to an underlying condition or symptom that you need to consult your doctor about.



Tremor is the term that refers to the involuntary shaking of the hands or part of the body. There are different types of tremor and each has a different cause. It is important to understand each one and really take into account anything that you do that induces the tremor. That way, you can actually prevent them from occurring or limit the symptoms.


Different Types of Tremor:

Physiologic Tremor – this form of tremor occurs in everyone. You often see people in films or TV shows say “hold out your hand and see how calm I am” they hold it out and have a steady hand (or sometimes a shaky one!). If you don’t think you are shaking, place a flat object on top of your extended hand and see if there is movement – there likely is! This is Tremor.
Most of the time it is barely noticeable, but the symptoms can be worsened for many reasons, including – consuming caffeine, alcohol withdrawal, anxiety or fear, tiredness and exhaustion.
If you notice symptoms, you can easily pinpoint down the cause and prevent the heavy symptoms from returning – e.g. cut down on caffeine, stop drinking, get more sleep etc.

Cerebellar Tremor – this form of tremor can be a little more serious. A Cerebellar Tremor occurs after you complete a certain movement or action – such as reaching for the TV remote or turning on a power switch. It is caused by damage to the Cerebellum – usually a result of a Stroke, disease, turmor, a result of chronic alcoholism, drug abuse or inherited degenerative disorder.

Orthostatic Tremor – this occurs when someone stands up. When you stand up, your leg muscles immediately begin contracting and adjusting to a standing formation. This isn’t manifested as shaking of the legs, but usually perceived as unsteadiness when first standing up. The symptoms disappear as soon as you start walking or sit back down again. This occurs for literally everyone.

Dystonic Tremor – this occurs for those who are affected by Dystonia. You can be any age. It can affect any muscle in the body and is visible when moving in a particular way. They occur at irregular times and are often relieved by simply resting. But symptons can point to an underlying condition called Dystonia, it is something that you should look into with your doctor.

Parkinsonian Tremor – This form of tremor is often the first sign of Parkinsons disease, but can occur in people who do not have Parkinsons. Movement starts in one side of the body and then gradually progresses into the other side. It can affect numerous parts of the body and the condition is worsened when suffering from stress or anxiety.



It is important to get peace of mind from your doctor when you think you have something worse than a Physiologic Tremor – getting treatment is very important. Or being told there is nothing to worry about can be equally as important.

Before seeing your doctor it is very important to understand what is is that triggers your Tremor. What are you doing when it occurs, how are you feeling? Does it correspond to an intake of caffeine or taking certain medication?