Sadly those who are suffering with a dementia related disease will eventually develop an unsteady gait, whereby the sufferer will hardly lift their feet. Instead they will develop a shuffle and this therefore creates a higher risk of falling. At this point, my advice to anyone and as a safety precaution, remove all carpets, throws and rugs. In order to avoid any potential slip, trips or falls. However, this is just one of the concerns to consider as there are many other things we need to do.
Suffering cognitive impairment will also affect their sense of perception. For example, to them some objects may appear closer than what they actually are. Sometimes when they maybe approaching a step or a curb, they might make the mistake of lifting their foot too early, and so they may most likely lose their balance.
Their anxiety level and state of confusion may also be factors. As watching someone trying to get in and out of a chair and not quite make it, and that person would then fall back into their seat. And even when they finally do make it to their feet they will remain unsteady.
Medication can also be another worry. As some dementia medications that are prescribed can challenge their balance based on side effects of taking the medication. This was the case for my Dad but as soon as his GP took him off the tablets he was taking for his kidneys, he recovered nearly all of his balance.
There are a number of things that we can do to help our loved ones stay independent and safe in their home. My favourite is keeping their house well lit. Even at night, when everyone is usually asleep, I still keep some lights in the house on.
Carers should try and help their patients stay strong and healthy by encouraging them to exercise regularly . Leg lifts are a good idea. Maybe even join in with them and they might even think it's helping you as well. Exercises can even be done whilst they are sitting in their chair. Speaking of chairs; rocking chairs are a great tool for maintaining good circulation in their legs. Without them even knowing it, every time they pump their feet to create the back and forth motion, they are strengthening their legs and providing a better blood flow throughout their lower extremities. Also, the repetition and movement can be very soothing for them.
Certain rooms can be made safe with simple adjustments. For example, in the kitchen, forget about using the top shelves at all. Many falls occur while stepping on a step stool or climbing onto a chair to get something down that's out of reach.
On the subject of bathrooms, they should have multiple grab rails by the toilet and in the bath/shower. Non-slip adhesive strips are essential. And if they will be using a shower chair, buy one that has a strong back so they won't tip over backwards. In addition, a raised toilet seat will help them stand up easier.
Pay close attention to what they wear on their feet. Those old slippers need to go. If they're having trouble with their shoelaces, it's time to switch to Velcro straps or loafers.
Just use your common sense and take a slow walk around their house with your eyes wide open. Ensure their street address is visible in case of an emergency. Too many times the emergency services are called to a home and end up either going round in circles as the house number or address was not easy to see or find. A quick response time in an emergency is crucial.
However, even if you do follow every rule in the book, accidents may still happen. Therefore, what you need to do is reduce the chances of someone getting injured. And following some of the ideas above, may just help you do this.