Dementia Care at Home: Ambulation and Fall Safety

Dementia can impact an individual's ability to walk and move about safely. In this blog post, we discuss strategies for assisting with ambulation, fall prevention, and creating a safe environment for those with dementia in a home care setting.

Dementia Care at Home: Ambulation and Fall Safety

A dementia care at home plan includes fall safety. Ambulation means to walk, or move about. ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) include the ability to ambulate, or walk. Walking is essential to most activities. And it’s the single most important exercise for the promotion of good health. As with most ADLs, ambulating difficulties are not a concern in the early stage of dementia. As dementia progresses, physical activities become more difficult. Walking will likely need your help at some point.

A Dementia Care at Home Plan ….Ideas and tips

Those with dementia need the assistance of an ambulatory device such as… a cane or walker, or the physical help of one or more caregivers. For proper care in regards to ambulation, consider these ADLs points:

  • Do not try to discourage pacing adn wandering. As long as they are getting basic needs met… wandering and pacing occupies their time. Attempts to prevent it can provoke anxiety episodes
  • Daily activity is important, so assist as needed to take part
  • Those with dementia will not need much help with ambulation in the earlier stages. Reevaluate the need for help on an ongoing basis and provide help as needed
  • As dementia progresses, the person will move slower, more deliberately…. taking short, shuffling steps. Especially if there is Parkinson’s Disease. Be patient and don’t rush him…as this will increase the risk of falling
  • There will likely be an increased risk of falls, so check for this and assist to ambulate as needed
  • Keep the environment safe:
  • No throw rugs
  • Wipe up spills
  • Keep the temperature comfortable
  • Hallways clear, straight and clear path to the bathroom, etc.
  • Watch condition of their feet. Observe for any blisters or other skin breakdown that will cause pain. This can make walking more difficult and predisposing to falls
  • Be aware of any numbness to the lower legs and decreased sensation. This happens with diabetes. This will make it more difficult to ambulate and increase the risk of falling

More on a Dementia Care  at Home Plan ….Ideas and tips

  • Those who use an ambulation aid, such as a cane or walker, are already at high risk of falls. The use of such devices already assumes that the person is weaker than in times past.
  • Learn how to assist with ambulation. Stand on the patient’s weaker side (if one side is weaker than the other) to provide better, more balanced support
  • Do not push the person to ambulate beyond his capability; this will only increase the risk of falling
  • Your family member,  will not always be compliant with use of assistive devices. So encourage the use of them. Realize that they will forget to use the device; cueing or reminding is ongoing
  • When walking and providing physical support… stand close to the side, and slightly behind the person
  • There are time, even in the middle stages of dementia that physical therapy may be appropriate

For more information on activity of daily livings

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