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falls & mobility
why people with dementia fall



Persons with dementia fall up to three times more often than individuals without cognitive impairments. Dementia not only causes individuals to experience normal age-related vision and mobility changes that increase fall risk, but it brings it own set of challenges that can cause unsafe situations:

Inability to housekeep, maintain a home, or hoarding behavior can create mounds of clutter and other home hazards.

Reduced attention and/or depth perception can make certain objects, like doorsills, glass and/or small tables, unnoticed and easily tripped over.

Becoming easily agitated (lowered stress threshold) and storming off or possibly striking out and losing balance.

Fear of falling and consequently, not walking much, which further increases fall risk -- no exercise leads to weakened muscles and stiff joints.

Impaired memory and judgment can cause such risky behaviors as
  • Attempting to get out of a bed or chair independently because the person has forgotten he/she cannot transfer or walk without assistance.

  • Forgetting to use a cane or walker when he/she cannot walk without one.

  • Descending steep stairs in the dark, searching for a mother or adult child the person believes is still in his/her care.
Changes in perception and balance can cause problems such as knowing where to place one's feet going up or down stairs, walking with a shuffle and getting one's foot caught on area rugs or doorsills, or walking off balance and holding onto unsteady furniture.

Other activities outside of the environment may increase fall risk, such as certain medications or wearing poorly fitting shoes.

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