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10 Tips for Preventing Dementia-Related Falls

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for older adults. Those who live with dementia are especially at risk. Impaired judgment, decline in sensory perception over time and an inability tell others about their needs can contribute to an increased fall risk for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related disorders.

The following 10-point guide provides easy-to-follow tips that will help family members reduce falls risks for their loved ones with dementia:

1. Arrange for adequate lighting.

Dementia can damage the visual system and cause illusions and misperceptions. Make sure the home has enough lighting in each room to reduce visual difficulties. People with dementia might misinterpret what they see, so reducing dark areas and shadows is vital.

2. Provide visual cues.

People with dementia can have difficulty separating similar colors (such as the same carpet on the stairs and on the floor) and setting objects and their background apart. It is helpful to define the top and bottom of a staircase through the use of contrasting colors.

3. Clear walking paths inside the home.

Those living with dementia can have a hard time recognizing the danger of a loose rug, unsteady footstool or electrical cords stretched across the floor. Removing tripping hazards and keeping pathways clear can help prevent falls.

4. Decrease clutter outside.

Areas outside of the home should be clear of objects (leaves, rocks, etc.) and there should not be dips in walkways or otherwise uneven ground in a senior’s path.

5. Information and reminders in a common place.

Create a single place for any notes or reminders that can easily be accessed and read by a person with dementia. This can be a cork bulletin board or a dry erase board. Using a single location simplifies the process and provides for an organized system, preventing the need for a senior to walk around looking for information.

6. Keep important things by the bed.

A major issue for people living with dementia is confusion at night. Restless nights can leave them tired and unsteady. To help prevent wandering at night, keep important items on a bedside table, including water, a light source, eyeglasses, tissues and the telephone.

7. Consider unmet needs.

A person living with dementia may start to wander as their condition progresses. This may lead them into unsafe areas. Wandering often signifies an unmet need a senior is trying to satisfy. For example, they may be looking for a telephone because they usually called their wife at 5 p.m. Instead of trying to physically stop the wandering, try distracting or redirecting their activity to avoid raising a person’s anxiety or frustration level.

8. Lower noise levels.

As a person living with dementia may have more sensitivity to noise, you should try and decrease the level of white noise and loud sounds around them. If the noise level becomes too much, it can cause anxiety and nervousness – which can make a person with dementia unsteady on their feet.

9. Keep help at hand.

For an older person who is at risk of falling, being able to quickly and easily call for help is vital. Consider various forms of remote care technology, such as a fall alert bracelet or auto detector, which can be used in case of an emergency.

10. Supply safe footwear.

What a person wears on their feet can represent a major fall risk. If a shoe can easily slip off, it can cause them to trip. However, a person living with dementia may struggle with complicated articles of clothing that involve buttons or laces. Shoes with Velcro fastenings are a good solution, making footwear easy to take on and off, but also safely securing it to their feet.

Other resources:

To further help the more than 5 million people living with a form of dementia in the U.S. and Canada, Homewatch CareGivers maintains a website with dozens of Dementia Care Tips. We organized these tips into three categories:

• Preserving Skills and Function: Because a person’s quality of life can be impacted by their surroundings, these recommendations focus on making small changes to the environment that can help a person with tasks of daily living, such as personal hygiene, household chores, meals, and attention span.

• Coping with Symptoms: These tips focus on growing awareness of possible triggers and coaching for family and friends on how to handle symptoms such as wandering, anxiety and depression, and mood swings.

• Support for Caregivers: The tips in the third section provide emotional and psychological support for the people who care for loved ones living with dementia, and provide suggestions on how to take safety precautions and redirect a loved one’s focus. The tips also contain ideas on how to keep a caregiver from becoming depressed or sick.

To learn about professional in home care, contact us today.