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Alzheimer's & Dementia
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Safer Stairs - Introduction

Person's Condition
Mobility problems
Low vision
Poor depth perception
Can't see step edge
Can't judge step height

Staircase Condition
Lack of handrails
Steps in disrepair
Poor lighting
Torn carpeting
Unsecured rugs at landing
Steep stairs (basement)

One Person's Story

At some point in the disease, the person will have difficulty climbing stairs. This may be due to age-related mobility problems, such as arthritis, or age-related low vision problems, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. The person may also have poor depth perception, a dementia-related condition. Instead of seeing the individual steps, the person may see the steps blended together, making it difficult to know where to put one's feet or how high to lift one's legs.

Then, too, the stairway may be unsafe. There often is no or only one handrail, which makes it unsafe or even impossible for the person to use the stairs if he or she has a weak side due to a stroke. Descents may be especially dangerous because of low light levels, clutter – especially on landings – that can cause trips and slips, or torn carpeting or treads in which toes may easily become caught. And finally, unsecured carpets can easily slide underneath the stair when walked on, especially if the person is rushing.

In this section, we show you how to make stair climbing as safe as possible, and also suggest alternatives for when stair climbing is no longer feasible.

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