Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are progressive cognitive conditions that severely affect the person’s ability to function as they’re used to in their day-to-day lives. The dementia journey creates a whole new set of challenges for the entire family that should be faced with love, patience, and compassion.
Many people associate dementia with memory loss, difficulty with communication, and living in a “reality” that’s different from our own. However, dementia can also lead to mobility issues, especially in the later stages of the condition.
How can dementia cause mobility issues in older people?
Late-stage dementia is the phase when your loved one’s physical health tends to deteriorate. They might slowly lose their ability to walk, stand, or get up from a chair or bed. Falls also become more common during late-stage dementia.
Although each person will experience dementia in their own way, there are some common factors that contribute to dementia’s connection to mobility, including:
Loss of or reduction in eyesight
People with dementia might experience visual difficulties, even if they have healthy eyes. The problems with eyesight are caused by the effects of dementia on the brain. Poor vision can cause a person to be afraid to navigate their home for fear of bumping into things, getting lost, or being injured from tripping and falling.
A failing sense of direction
Your loved one may lose their sense of direction or spatial orientation, which causes them having difficulty recognizing once-familiar landmarks and forget how to get to familiar places they used to have no trouble finding. It may also become more difficult to follow a series of directions and step-by-step instructions.
The situation will eventually reach a point that it’s no longer safe for your loved one to drive and needs to transition to living without driving.
Loss of muscle strength and balance
Researchers have discovered that the weight of an individual’s bones, muscles, and organs without body fat appears to decline in people with dementia due to a reduction in brain volume and function. Changes in the brain can also impact one’s balance, creating a fall risk. All of this can affect one’s ability to move freely, safely, and with confidence.
Vascular and frontotemporal dementia can often cause a series of mini or large strokes in the brain. These strokes can have an incredible effect on the person’s cognitive and physical abilities, severely limiting mobility. Although the person may regain some mobility during recovery, the damage is sometimes permanent.
Depending on your loved one’s specific condition, their doctor may prescribe certain medications to help treat the symptoms of dementia. However, some of these medications also cause drowsiness, dizziness, and a drop in blood pressure when standing quickly from a sitting position. These side effects increase your loved one’s risk of falling.
If you believe your loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, get in touch with their doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.
Depression and negative thoughts and feelings
People with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are often at a higher risk of depression, especially as they come to realize what’s happening to them. Depression can make a person less active or affect how well they eat, drink, and sleep, potentially increasing their fall risk.
Feelings of stress, boredom, fear, loneliness, or being in pain can also harm mood and mobility. It’s recommended that caregivers understand what triggers negative attitudes and make efforts to correct them.
How home caregivers can help a loved one retain mobility
As a home caregiver, you can take an active role in helping your loved one stay physically active and avoid, delay, or reduce dementia’s effect on their physical health. There are many exercises that help improve core strength and balance, muscle strength, and manage weight.
Be sure to check with their doctor to ensure that any new exercise routine is safe and appropriate for your loved one’s condition.
Another strategy to help support mobility is to ensure the home is free from clutter and fall hazards, making it safe to navigate. If your loved one is experiencing problems with their eyesight, you can also cut fall risks by installing bright light bulbs, adding signage to doors and hallways, or using contrasting colours in their home’s décor to make different items, such as chairs, tables, and lamps, more visually distinguishable.
As the person continues their dementia journey, getting them up and moving may become increasingly difficult. It’s never too late to seek qualified assistance for guidance and advice. Professional in-home caregivers can provide the support your family needs during this time. They will help ensure that your loved one’s health and well-being are always professionally managed.
When you need a helping hand, CareHop is only a phone call away.
Quality in-home elder care services in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton
CareHop specializes in providing safe, professional eldercare services when your family needs it. Our Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care services bring peace of mind to families that their loved one is in good hands at every step of the way.
Our caregivers also provide in-home nursing care and PSW services that focus on your loved one’s needs, minimizing stress on family caregivers. Our other services in-home elder care services such as homemaking and meal preparation, personal care, activities, and casual companionship that help ensure your loved one has a great day, every day
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion to discover how we can help you with safe, cost-effective eldercare solutions.