Mobility and Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Friday the 10th of January 2020.

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As someone progresses along the dementia journey, they may experience some mobility changes which can inhibit their ability to take part in certain activities. It is important to continue to be mobile in any way which is comfortable and possible to help boost mood and physical wellbeing. Not all people will experience difficulty or changes in mobility, but for those who do, we have discussed just some of the ways activities can be adapted along the dementia journey to suit people with different mobility challenges.

Loss of Mobility

Some people living with dementia, especially in the later stages, may find themselves not moving around as much as they used to; this can be due to losing the ability to walk, stand, get themselves up, or experiencing more falls. As dementia can affect areas of the brain which are responsible for movement and balance, some people may experience changes in mobility as they progress along the journey.

Gait can also change as well and can often be an early sign of mobility changes. Other things to be aware of are changes such as taking shorter steps, seeming slow when moving or bumping into things which can also be associated with cognitive changes on the dementia journey. Apraxia is another condition which can affect someone’s ability to walk. Uncoordinated movements or unsteady steps may also be common and when these initial mobility changes are identified, using a walking aid may assist in the person getting around.

 

Mobility Aids

Investing in mobility aids can be highly beneficial for assisting those who may be experiencing mobility issues. Some of the common mobility concerns in those living with dementia include slowness of movement, stiffness and potential falls, along with difficulty getting up or to a standing position.

Mobility aids can be as simple as a walking stick; having a prop to rely on could allow the person to have the confidence to move around and give them support to avoid falls. If a person’s mobility reduces over time, other mobility aids can be used such as stairlifts, wheelchairs, bed wedges or bath doors and shower rails can all help the person with dementia retain independence.

 

Exercise

Without regular use, muscles and joints can deteriorate in function and lead to further mobility difficulties or health issues;  it is important to engage in safe and suitable physical activities. There are many ways exercise and activities can be adapted to suit a variety of different abilities.

As exercise is so beneficial for encouraging mobility and independence, it is important that exercise activities can be adapted for those who aren’t as mobile. There are many seated exercises for those who have difficulty walking, such as seated yoga. For specific exercises which will benefit the individual it is important to speak to a GP or physiotherapist.

Care homes will often have tailored group sessions which are brilliant for those who may be less mobile. Activities which encourage light exercise such as the Active Minds Golf Target can help those who may be less mobile to take part in regular exercise.

For those with dementia living at home, other simple exercises such as taking a walk outside and incorporating fun and engaging activities like the Nature Explorer pack from Active Minds or perhaps bird watching with the help of a bird identification book, can be great for encouraging exercise whilst taking in the outdoors.

 

Changes along the dementia journey can sometimes result in reduced mobility. The more mobile an individual can remain, the better it will be for their physical health and day to day wellbeing. For those who can still move around but may experience some difficulty, an occupational therapist or GP may be able to provide information and equipment which may be of use. For those who may not be able to move around as much, and may spend more time seated, there are a range of activities which can be conducted from a seated position.