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Understanding Balance Loss in Dementia Patients: 3 Tips for Coping

 

Dementia can take a lot away from the person inflicted by it. Not only can the disease leave loved ones dazed and confused but it can also have them feeling uncertain about their own bodies. Memory issues are normal side effects associated with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But there are other side effects that are not as widely spoken about, such as a loss of balance. Caregivers should make themselves aware of these physical manifestations of dementia and Alzheimer’s and prepare themselves accordingly.

What are the main differences between the two diseases? Dementia is not a disease but rather a name for a group of symptoms that make it hard to remember, think clearly, and at times control your emotions. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological brain disorder, which also causes problems with memory. When it comes to dementia vs alzheimers there are subtle differences. For example, being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s does not mean you also would be dealing with symptoms of dementia. Here are some ways to keep a loved one who is suffering from dementia of Alzheimer’s safe.

1. You can make your home safer.

One move as a caretaker that you can take it making small improvements to make your home safer. If balance has started to become a major issue it is imperative that you make the home easier to navigate. For example, take away any rugs that could trip the patient up. You can also make sure that there is nothing lying about on the floor that could cause a hazard. Try to rearrange the patient’s personal effects so that everything they would use on a daily basis is within reach. You can also install safety bars in the shower and bathrooms which are easy to grab onto if they are feeling wobbly. If your home is usually dark make sure to invest in some more lighting so that all the obstacles are sufficiently lit and noticeable. You can also take your loved one to and audiologist to get a vertigo test to determine the cause of vertigo. If you notice the patient is struggling with dizzy spells or trouble standing that is a major signal that something could be very wrong, since vertigo can be a sign of dementia.

2. Make sure they do plenty of physical activity.

Keeping the body in shape is a great way to avoid falling due to balance issues. Exercise has been proven to lower anxiety and even improve memory in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. No matter what stage your loved one is in, it’s good to keep them as active as possible. Some doctors will recommend low impact workouts such as walking or swimming. There are particular low-impact workouts such as calf raises, straight leg raises, and a single leg stand that are meant to improve the patient’s balance while strengthening the leg muscles.

3. Asking for help is okay.

Now, this last tip is a bit up to the discretion of the individual who is suffering from the ailments of dementia, since asking for help can be a sore subject due to pride. If your loved one is willing to use a cane or a walker when struggling with their balance that can make all the difference towards allowing them to remain more independent. The idea behind a walking aid is to make your loved one feel more confident within their own balance, allowing them to stand easily. It is important to note that the helpfulness of a walker or cane depends on the stage the patient is in. A walking tool can quickly become a hazard for some, since it can be a complex device. Also, just because your loved one has a walking aid does not mean they should be left to their own devices. It is important to keep an eye on them and offer help when needed. If this is your family member’s first time using a cane or walker you may need to remind them to use it in the beginning.