Dementia Dilemma: Why Dementia Patients Are Prone to Falls

Posted on Nov 16 2018 - 1:00am by Alonzo Callahan

Elderly woman who had lost balanceOlder people are prone to falls, given their declining senses. For elderly who are suffering from dementia, though, the risk of such dangerous accidents is increased. This is the reason health experts strongly recommend creating a senior-friendly home that promotes ease of movement. It’s also important to know what causes falls so you can better plan a safe home environment.

Here are the common reasons dementia patients are vulnerable to potentially fatal falls:

Poor Gait

Gait pertains to one’s ability to walk. Dementia causes significant changes in the brain’s ability to plan, use stored knowledge, and make decisions — all of which needed in walking. When your loved one finds it hard to walk, falls then become likelier.

Help them be more comfortable moving around by offering mobility equipment for the elderly. Do note also that the manner in which someone walks can predict cognitive impairment, as recent studies show. Even if your loved one may not be diagnosed with dementia, but you’ve noticed changes in the way they walk, they may be at the early stages of dementia, and thus would need mobility support.

Lack of Exercise

Dementia patients are less likely to engage in physical activities. That’s in part due to the fact that the disease causes apathy and depression among sufferers. Your loved one may have lost interest in such, thus isolating themselves.

A sedentary lifestyle may lead to greater risk for falls, as they gain more weight and their reflexes aren’t exercised enough. Talk to their doctor if they would need to take medications for depression. Encourage them to join social exercises, like a dance class, to prevent further isolation that exacerbates loneliness. If that won’t do, try gardening. This activity counts as a workout, at the same time, a mental exercise.

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Memory Impairment

As you know, dementia gradually causes loss of memory among sufferers. As the disease progresses, you would notice that your ageing loved one seems to be more ‘stubborn’. For instance, getting up from their beds without reaching for the grab rails or getting help from you.

It’s not them being hard-headed; it’s the disease causing them to forget your safety advice. For this reason, it’s best to keep them under close supervision. Some families work with professional elderly caregivers to better address the needs of their loved one.

Remember, a dementia-stricken loved one is vulnerable to fall accidents. Break the fall by creating a senior-friendly home environment.