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Gait, Fall Risk and Alzheimer’s Disease

By , 4:25 pm on

By Lee Nyberg

Several recent articles* about a person’s gait and the presence of Alzheimer’s have caused me to look more closely at peoples’ gaits in general and specifically those of people I know with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The bottom line is that the areas of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s affect the ability to use motor skills as well as short-term memory function. I have seen formerly athletic people, in early stage AD, stumble and falter. This means people in the early stage of AD, even though they are highly functioning in many areas, may be at risk of falling. As the disease progresses, this risk increases. If you are helping to care for someone with Alzheimer’s, even in the early stages, please evaluate your home for fall hazards. Here’s a quick run through of areas to check and correct:

• Ensure plenty of light in every room and along hallways and in stairways. Motion-activated or timer lights can be particularly helpful, especially as days get shorter. Emergency lighting or a flashlight should also be within easy reach.
• Improve bathroom safety by installing grab bars in the tub or shower and by the toilet. Non-slip strips and a bath bench in the tub or shower and a raised toilet seat are valuable additions.
• Keep kitchen countertops glare-free. Remove or redirect lighting shining directly down on glossy countertops.
• All rugs should be tacked down or secured with nonskid pads. Rugs with highly-contrasting dark and light patterns can interfere with seniors’ depth perception and should be removed.
• On hard surface floors, reduce glare. Use only no-wax cleaners.
• Secure handrails on both sides of stairways and outside steps. Steps should also have non-skid treads.
• Furniture should not block walking areas.
• Remove electrical cords from walk ways and the edges of walk ways.
If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Home Care Assistance of Omaha offers specialty Alzheimer’s care to help improve their quality of life. Our professional caregivers assist their client with activities of daily living, personal hygiene and mobility. We provide free in home assessments and we do not require long term contracts. Take the first step towards peace of mind and call Home Care Assistance of Omaha today at 402 763-9140.

*”Footprints to Cognitive Decline Seen in Gait,” NY Times

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