Falling is one of the scariest things that can happen to seniors and their caregivers, but for the elderly, falls linked to dementia happen twice as frequently and have serious consequences. This increase in fall risk is due to the degeneration of the brain, which is caused by the disease. Let's take a look at how you can help your loved ones with dementia avoid falls.
Why Do Seniors With Dementia Fall?
As mentioned, seniors with dementia fall more often because of the degeneration caused by the disease. Dementia causes abnormalities in balance and general unawareness. Both of these can lead to increased physical instability and falls.
For example, in memory impairment, a patient forgets they have stairs to climb or go down. If a patient has poor cognitive skills, when put in a new environment, confusion and anxiety take over and puts the patient at risk.
Additionally, dementia medications may impact a senior's fall risk. A vast number of seniors with dementia are taking SSRIs for anxiety or depression (citelopram, sertraline, fluoxetine). Combined with other medications for blood pressure, heart, arthritis, etc., there is an increase in the fall risk for these patients. Their motor control skills are compromised and their mental acuity blurs further with these medications.
If these seniors fall more often, it follows that they are at greater risk of fractures and other injuries. Refer to our Family Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's & Dementia for more information on common symptoms of dementia.
How Can You Prevent Falls?
Sufferers of dementia often have poor vision and are prone to illusions and misconceptions which cause them to become even more confused. Making sure that the room is adequately lit will help the patient see clearer and navigate around the room better.
Clear walking paths within the home and remove possible hazards such as electrical cords and throw rugs. Decluttering the living space is paramount in preventing falls.
Make sure that the senior wears slip-resistant shoes or slippers. Avoid socks or other slippery footwear.
Keep important items within reach of the elderly person to limit their movements. Things like water, glasses, telephone, remote control and tissue are all important to have beside the person.
Install handrails in the bathroom, bed rails on the bed, a walker and other safety features within easy reach of the dementia sufferer.
At Caring Senior Service, we work with the dementia sufferer and loved ones to help maintain a comfortable, independent life. Please contact us to learn about our many services.