Falls and People Living with Dementia
As a person ages, the risk for falls increases, particularly in people with dementia. Furthermore, people living with Parkinson’s disease, vascular, and Lewy body dementia are at an even higher risk of mobility disturbances. Consider that someone with dementia may experience impacts to some or all of the following:
- Insight, which affects judgement
- Recognition of sensory input
- Coordination of movement
- Interpretation of their environment
- Retention of information
Here are seven tips to help reduce the risk of falls:
- Provide adequate lighting. Dementia can damage the visual system and cause illusions and misperceptions. Making sure the home has enough lighting in each room helps reduce visual difficulties. People with dementia might misinterpret what they see, so reducing dark areas and shadows is vital.
- Provide visual contrasts. People with dementia can have difficulty separating similar colours and setting objects and their background apart. It is helpful to use obvious contrasts as well as solid colours instead of patterns.
- Keep pathways clear. Those living with dementia can have a hard time recognizing the dangers of unsafe clutter. Removing tripping hazards and keeping pathways clear can help prevent falls. In addition, keep surfaces level, dry, and non-slip.
- Place 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 step may prevent someone from walking around looking for information.
- Keep important things in consistent, visible, and easy-to-reach places. A major issue for people living with dementia is confusion. Keeping items in consistent places may help to reduce the additional distractions and disorientation that comes from looking for something familiar.
- Lower noise levels. A person living with dementia may have more sensitivity to noise. Decrease the level of loud sounds and be aware of the buzz of background activities.
- Use simple clothing and safe footwear. 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, as well as safely secure.