How to Prevent Falls in Someone with Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Wednesday the 9th of March 2016.

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The human body is inherently unstable and so complex regulatory mechanisms are required for us to stay in the upright position and prevent us from falling. These mechanisms, naturally begin to fail over time and as we age abnormalities occur in our balance and the way we walk. As dementia affects the brain, these mechanisms occur at a faster rate. This can put stress on those living with Dementia as they may feel they are at the risk of falling, coupled with loss of function and feelings of isolation.

At Active Minds, we are committed to improving the quality of life for people living with dementia and that means being able to find solutions to difficulties that may arise. We have put together some ideas to help prevent falls in dementia patients and create a more comfortable environment for them.

Check for Hazards

Doing regular hazard checks in the environment that a dementia patient is living in, is one of the best ways that you can limit the potential for them to fall. You might be able to request a home safety assessment for them, where a professional can come in and check their home, but if that is not possible then you can do it yourself. Check that the lighting is adequate, so any obstacles will be visible when a patient moves around their home. Remove anything that someone can trip over and make sure that rooms are not cluttered with items that can easily fall and create a hazard. Ensure that a dementia patient’s shoes fit properly, so they do not allow them to trip over when they wear them inside. Checking for hazards is a simple and effective way of helping to prevent falls.

Seek Medical Help

If you have noticed an increase in the amount of falls that someone is having, it is a good idea to take them to the doctors so they can carry out a medication review which might be causing side-effects. A doctor can also carry out a falls risk assessment where a patient’s balance and other factors can be measured with some simple tasks. This can lead to further tests if the risk is considered to be serious and a multifactorial risk assessment may be carried out by a falls prevention service, which will be able to provide more specialised support and advice moving forward.

Health and Wellbeing

Taking someone living with Dementia to get their general health checked out is also important because it means elements of their health such as balance, hearing and their eyesight, which can affect the likelihood of falling over, can be monitored. Mental wellbeing can also be assessed, as increased confusion can lead to falls. Professionals will be able to provide further advice or point you in the right direction for getting more assistance provided.

Exercise

It is recommended that those living with Dementia exercise so that they can increase their strength and balance. Not all types of exercise are suitable and it depends on what stage of Dementia they are at but if you encourage them to partake in suitable excise this could improve their wellbeing. We currently have two dementia exercise activity products to offer.

Taking someone with Dementia for a walk around a garden and increasing their confidence with general movement, will help them to negotiate and manoeuvre obstacles in their living environment. Their balance and strength will improve with regular exercise and their physical condition will mean that the chances of them falling will decrease.

There are no guarantees that the measures that you put in place will fully prevent a person living with dementia from falling over. But by aiming to make their living environment as safe and comfortable as possible it can help to relax them and make them feel confident about moving around in their home.