As we age, we become prone to many health-related issues. One of them is dementia. And seniors who have dementia tend to fall at least 4 times a year. So, dementia falls are quite a common sight. And thus, it is crucial to Prevent Falls in Dementia Patients.
It is up to us to take care of our elders. You obviously don’t want the seniors of your house to fall and hurt themselves. So, paying extra attention to dementia patients is crucial.
But what makes people with dementia so risky to fall often? And as caregivers, how do you mitigate the risk of falling? As the National Fall Awareness Week (21-25 September) is nearby, let’s find out the answers to help our seniors.
A Brief Understanding of Dementia
We talk a lot about Memory Care for dementia patients. But what exactly is dementia? You need to understand this properly before diving into dementia and falls.
Dementia means the deterioration of brain functions. When an elderly is diagnosed with dementia, the person faces gradual decay in cognitive skills. They can include memorizing, paying attention, critical thinking and many more. As a result, they face problems with their day-to-day practices.
And when we talk about dementia, many issues come to mind. One of the most alarming issues is elderly falls and dementia. It is not just the dysfunction in the brain that causes such a scary incident. There are many reasons why dementia patients can fall.
To top it off, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a frightening claim. They have stated that dementia falls are the dominant reason for senior deaths from injuries. You cannot completely cure a dementia patient. So, how do you care for elderlies with dementia?
There is no other alternative to preventing dementia falls among seniors.
5 Causes behind Dementia Patients Falling Down
Let’s discuss dementia and falls causes first. Dementia patients are at a higher risk for falls than any other senior with health issues. Why are they at a higher risk of falling and injuries themselves? Many symptoms make them prone to such horrible incidents.
When you know the reasons behind the fall, you know how to prevent it. There are several risk factors associated with older people falling due to dementia. As caregivers, it is essential to assess the risks for better dementia care.
Here are 5 causes behind dementia patients falling.
1. Decrease in memory capacity
Short-term memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. As a result, seniors can often have trouble remembering important information. And this can cause them to forget something dangerous.
An example would clear out any confusion. Suppose you told the senior that the floor is wet from an ongoing cleaning process. You have also asked them not to walk around a certain room of the house. But the person can end up forgetting about it due to the mental condition.
Thus, the decline in memory capacity makes them risky to slip and fall.
2. Weak perception of the surrounding
It is very common for seniors with dementia to have an impaired perception of their surroundings. As a result, they may often fail to understand any fall hazard signs and signals. Again, we can simplify the cause with an easy example.
Suppose there is a “wet floor” sign on the floor. We all may think that it is easy to understand. But a dementia patient may not realize the sign before it’s too late. This happens because they face trouble in catching these minor details.
Also, such seniors can lack common sense at times. For example, they have known throughout their lives that feeling dizzy is a sign of taking a break and relax. But they can forget all about it and walk around in such a condition. Eventually, this will result in falling and hurting.
3. Trouble in coordinating
This symptom is rather technical. Dementia patients can have trouble coordinating the movements of the muscles. We all know that every muscle, tissue and neuron is connected to the brain. So, a person with brain dysfunction can lose the ability to understand muscle movements.
As a result, they will have trouble coordinating daily physical movements. This can result in them being clumsy. And finally, they can fall and get injured.
4. Hallucination and illusion
We get it- these terms may sound fancy and dramatic. But as any dementia patient about it. Do you know what they will say? They will state that hallucination and illusion are their best buddies.
So, how do they contribute to dementia seniors falling? Imagine you are going down the stairs. What will happen if you hallucinate that there is no other step? You will immediately lose your balance and fall off the stairs.
The same thing happens with dementia patients. And for them, this tends to happen more often than not! So now you know why they can be so unbalanced.
5. Deterioration in senses
The final cause of this massive problem at hand is dementia affecting the senses. People with dementia can have a lack of sensory abilities. For instance, they may face deterioration in the sense of touch, sound, or sight.
This can cause them to be at high risk of being careless. For example, suppose a senior with such issues is trying to get on the bed. Just a little sight-loss can result in them tripping over and falling.
7 Tips to Prevent Falls in Dementia Patients
We’re on the main topic now. Here we will see some guidelines and fall prevention strategies for dementia patients. These are how-to tips that will allow you to reduce the risks of falling. We’ve compiled a complete 7-step approach for your help. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Design a safe living place
The first task is to design an abode that is safe for them. So what does a safe living place mean for dementia patients? Let’s find out.
- The bed structure should be risk-free with no sharp corners. The bed size should be adequate for the room as well.
- The number of drawers should be limited. This will help keep them organized.
- There should be a bedside table with a lamp on it. The lamp should be easy to turn on and off.
- The lighting of the room is very important. As dementia can cause visual impairment, the lighting should reduce any difficulties for them.
- Finally, the chairs should have arms on them for better mobility.
2. Remove any clutter at home
Dementia patients are at a high risk of falling. We are all well aware of it already. But why can’t they have a safe environment to live in? This is because most of us are unaware of the safety measures.
One crucial task for caregivers is to remove any clutters in the house. They can be very dangerous for dementia patients. These people can trip over clutter and fall on the ground.
So, your job is to ensure that no clothes or toys are lying around on the floor. This also includes making sure that the walkway and driveway are free of clutter. You can check here for home safety assessment as well.
3. Provide visual assistance and clear walking paths
Seniors with dementia can have problems with their eyesight. For example, they often have trouble understanding the colors of the carpet or the stairs. As a result, you will need to provide them with visual assistance.
For this, you can distinguish between the color of the top and bottom stairs. You can use a contrasting color for the task. This way, they will have a clear visual path in front of them.
Also, do not keep any loose rug or electrical cords in their pathway. They will find it hard to figure out the danger. There should be no hazardous object that can cause tripping in the house.
4. Fall prevention exercises
It can be tough to exercise a dementia patient. But it is not impossible. Exercises can help them become strong and well-balanced. Thus, the exercise routine should consist of balance and strength building.
You can consider training them on various activities. This includes squatting and standing up from sitting down. You can also consider other balance and strength building exercises for their safety.
5. Keep reminders in a standard place
If you are planning to keep notes for reminders, create a single place for them. That place in the house should be easily accessible. It is more organized when you are using a common place for information and reminders.
You can create an erase board or bulletin board for them. Then, keep the board near their eyesight or at a familiar place. This will ensure that the senior is not walking around the house for the information.
6. Reduce any noise pollution
Dementia patients are sensitive to noise. Any loud noise can cause them to lose concentration. As a result, they can fall over and hurt themselves.
Your task is to ensure that there is no unnecessary loud noise inside the house. Remove any object that can cause loud noise. If there is any construction work going on nearby, be beside them to avoid nervousness and anxiety.
7. Meet the unmet needs
Wandering is a common symptom of dementia. The more the situation worsens, the more dementia patients will wander around. And this makes it highly risky to end up in unsafe areas.
So, how does wandering relate to preventing falls in dementia patients? Wandering occurs when they are trying to meet an unmet need. And it is the caregiver’s duty to meet those needs. Or you should at least be aware of them. You can also distract them from any other activity until the need is fulfilled.
- Safe living space
- Clutter-less abode
- Visual assistance
- Clear walkways
- Fall prevention exercises
- Standard Reminders
- No Noise Pollution
- Meet the smallest needs
Taking Care of Dementia Patients with Memory Care
By now, you must have figured out the importance of constant care for dementia patients. Apart from falling, they are at high risk of other health hazards. So, providing them with memory care is a must.
A senior with dementia is dependent on others. In the early stages, you may be able to take care of your loved ones. But as the situation worsens, you will need professional help.
That is where we come in. Our memory care advisors assign caregivers for the best care to dementia patients. This way, the caregivers can ensure that the patients have a better and safer standard of living.
You can also consider other services that our advisors provide. For example, dementia patients may also need assisted living facilities. And what better option you have when you can find every service under one umbrella!
Ensuring a happy tomorrow for your loved ones is your job. When it comes to dementia care, there is no other alternative than care facilities. The facilities can provide constant supervision for any dementia-related risks for the seniors.
Dementia patients face the highest risks of falling and injuring themselves. Dementia falls can even lead to death for seniors. Thus, it is crucial to follow the preventive measures with the 7 tips mentioned in the article.
The best thing you can do is hire professionals for the task. Then, you can rely on our advisors of safe senior homes that meet their needs. After all, caring for the seniors in need is what we strive for!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do non-skid socks prevent dementia patient falls?
Though non-skid socks provide some foot protection, it cannot be guaranteed that they prevent dementia patients from falling. However, it does reduce the possibility to some extent.
At what stage of dementia do seniors start falling?
An elderly dementia patient may experience falling at the middle stage of dementia. It keeps worsening over time, and at the final stage, they might lose the ability to walk to communicate with people.
Can a fall trigger dementia?
Falling may trigger dementia or make it worse if the fall causes any head injury or trauma.
Does dementia fall under mental health?
Dementia is a brain condition that affects mental health but it is not a mental illness.