According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults 65 and older fall every year and seniors go to the hospital five times more for fall-related injuries than any other causes.
People living with dementia experience additional issues that may increase their risk for a fall; older adults with dementia are more likely to experience a fall by up to 60 percent. Those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia may have impaired judgment, a decline in sensory perception over time and an inability to tell others what they need.
Families and people living with dementia can trust caregivers who know this about the condition and take steps to ensure safety. To help people providing dementia care to a loved one, Homewatch CareGivers assembled a specialized list of tips designed to help limit fall risks:
1. Make sure there is enough lighting in the home and make use of visual cues.
Because dementia can damage a person’s the visual system, some people may experience illusions and misperceptions. By putting enough light in the room, it decreases the number of shadows and dark areas, which can cause a person living with dementia to misinterpret what they see. Additionally, those living with dementia may experience trouble separating similar colors, like the carpet in a hallway and carpeting on a staircase. It also helps people living with dementia when contrasting colors define the top and bottom of a staircase.
2. Clear walking paths inside and outside of the home.
Those living with dementia can have difficulty recognizing the danger of a loose rug, electrical cords stretched across the floor, or leaves and rocks outside of the home. Make sure to keep pathways clear of any tripping hazards.
3. Keep important information and essential items in an easy-to-access location.
This includes a single place for notes or reminders, so a person living with dementia does not have to go room-to-room looking for information. It’s also helpful to keep items like water, eyeglasses or the phone on a bedside table in case the person needs them in the middle of the night.
4. Provide an easy way to call for help.
This goes beyond ensuring easy access to a telephone. You may want to 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. For more information, read through our Guide to Remote Care Technology.
5. Provide safe footwear.
The shoes a person wears on their feet can become a major fall risk, especially if they can easily slip off. However, a person living with dementia may struggle to tie shoe laces or fasten buttons. So, shoes with Velcro fastenings can be a good solution. This makes shoes easy to take on and off, but keeps them from slipping off accidentally and causing a person to trip.