Dementia inhibits the ability to walk
Dementia can affect areas of the brain that are responsible for movement and balance. Many individuals affected by Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia gradually lose the ability to walk and perform everyday tasks. Knowing what to expect can make an easier transition for you and your loved one in the late stages of dementia.
Understanding balance and gait
One of the first signs of loss of mobility, is walking unsteadily and shuffling. Your loved one may seem slow or clumsy, causing more accidents and bumping into things. This “slowing” is typically associated with a syndrome called “parkinsonism.” Other signs of Parkinsonism include the shortening of steps, “stooped” posture, and the narrowing of the space between feet. Turning can become more difficult, because the person no longer pivots on their heels, but instead turn in a series of short steps. During the turns, their balance can become unstable, increasing the changes that they fall backward.
Apraxia is another condition associated with dementia and the ability to walk. An ataxic gait is characterized by imbalance, and abnormal, uncoordinated movements. Typically the individual can stand, but is very unsteady, taking small irregular steps. Very early in the course of apraxic walking in dementia, a cane or a walker can help. It is not uncommon to see a person go from a slow, cautious gait, to a normal walking pattern simply by taking up a cane.
How you can help
- It is important to note that people with dementia can have problems with walking that are not associated with dementia. Exhaustion and pain can limit how far a person can walk. Sometimes that pain can reflect an unattended problem in foot care or muscle fatigue.
- The person you care for may also require a mobility aid, such as a walking cane or a wheelchair in order to feel secure. Sometimes just being physically present can provide your loved one with the confidence and security to walk.
- Consider a physiotherapist: They can help with anything from exercises to strengthen muscles to walking aids.
It is not easy to care for someone with mobility constraints! Unfortunately, this issue is usually compounded with others, including constipation, blood clots, and pressure sores.
It takes a team
We can be your team. Falls can happen at any time, leading to permanent deteriorations in health, and it only takes a moment. Let us be there when you cannot. Call us today to learn how we help: 610-323-9800.
Understanding Dementia: Balance and Gait Examination – DementiaGuide.com. DementiaGuide, 2001. Web. 23 June 2016.