8 Tips to Prevent Falls in Seniors with Dementia

By Rachelle Ehlert

Adults with dementia are 4 to 5 times more likely to fall than adults with normal cognitive function. And of those seniors who fall, seniors with dementia are 3 times more likely to suffer from a bone fracture. Falls not only result in physical injuries but can exacerbate cognitive decline and lead to a loss of independence.

Families should pay special attention to fall hazards around the home and any fall risk signs. In this blog post, explore effective home safety tips tailored to reduce the risk of falls for those living with dementia.

Why People with Dementia Are At Higher Risk

First, let’s discuss why seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's disease are at higher risk of falling. Dementia and related cognitive diseases have symptoms that could lead to a fall, including the following:

  • Impaired judgement: Seniors with dementia may not be able to recognize fall hazards and signs of risk. For example, they might not realize that the floor is wet or that they should sit down if they are feeling dizzy.
  • Changes in senses: Dementia can also cause changes in the senses, like sight, sound, and touch. Seniors with dementia may not recognize sensory input as they once did. They might not recognize warning signs of a fall.
  • Poor perception: Seniors with dementia may also have poor depth perception and interpretation of their environment. For example, they may not perceive a step down or they may experience illusions.
  • Decreased memory: One of the main symptoms of dementia is impaired short-term memory. Seniors may have difficulty remembering new information. For example, if you told them the floor was wet and they should avoid walking through the kitchen.
  • Poor coordination: Dementia can also affect the brain’s ability to coordinate movement with the muscles. So seniors with dementia may have poor coordination, which can cause them to fall more easily during everyday activities.
  • Medication Side Effects: Doctors may prescribe mediation to for different types of dementia or other medical conditions. But these medications may cause dizziness, weakness, or disorientation, further heightening the risk of falls.

Family members can be more prepared to assist their loved one by understanding how dementia increases fall risk.

RELATED CONTENT: Understanding the Stages of Dementia

Fall Prevention Tips for Dementia

Luckily, there are many things you can do to protect a patient or loved one with dementia to help keep them safe.

1. Check Lighting

To help improve perception and heighten sight, make sure that the room is well lit but doesn’t have a lot of glare. Try to eliminate shadows, which can cause throw off a senior's depth perception. Use nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways to prevent disorientation during nighttime trips.

2. Create Contrast

Another way to improve perception and heighten vision capabilities is to improve contrast in a room. For example, furniture should be a different color than the floor and the background. Choose solid colors over patterns. And try to avoid black in a space because it may be confusing and appear like a black hole.

3. Declutter

Keep pathways clear of obstacles such as loose rugs, electrical cords, and furniture, especially in high-traffic areas. Minimize unnecessary furniture to create open spaces that facilitate movement. And don’t forget about outdoors! Make sure walkways and driveways are clear. 

4. Stay Organized

Stay organized and keep items in a place that is easily accessible by someone with dementia. Arrange household items so that the frequently used items are within arm’s reach to help reduce falls.

However, keep your loved one's routine and preferences in mind. They may be used to where the plates are, for example. Moving items around too much can cause confusion and may cause a senior to wander the home looking for things.

RELATED CONTENT: Common Dementia Behaviors

5. Communicate

Seniors with dementia may struggle to communicate and understand effectively. As you care for someone with dementia, pay attention to your language. If there is a risk of falling, help them understand by speaking in short sentences with simple language. And always remain positive.

6. Choose Adequate Footwear

Prevent falls by making sure your loved one or patient has on the right shoes. Footwear should fit snugly and have good traction. Shoes that are too big might slip off, causing a senior to trip.

7. Encourage Regular Exercise

Encourage light exercise routines tailored to the individual's abilities, such as gentle stretching or supervised walks. Physical activity helps improve strength, balance, and coordination, reducing the risk of falls.

8. Leverage Assistive Devices

Provide individuals with dementia with appropriate walking aids, such as canes or walkers, to improve stability. Consider using wearable alarms or motion sensors that alert caregivers if your loved one starts to wander or falls.

These tips can help you assist a patient or loved one with dementia and keep them safe. However, falls may still occur despite a watchful eye and thoughtful precautions. If a loved one falls, make sure they receive proper medical care and attention.

How Home Care Reduces Fall Risk

Senior home care can help a senior with dementia prevent falls through one-on-one attention. Caring Senior Service understands how dementia can affect individuals differently. We train our caregivers on how to help dementia patients. We also offer a specialized care program around dementia to ensure that each senior gets the care they need.

If your loved one is prone to falling, a professional service may be a good option to keep your loved one safe. Reach out to your local team of experts to discuss your options today!

Caregiver helping a senior man stand up

Tags: Alzheimer's & Dementia, Fall Prevention