By Jill Cigliana, MSOT, OTR/L
Happy National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 22! Did you know that people with dementia fall at nearly twice the rate of peers without dementia? As the brain begins to process information more slowly, people with dementia have difficulty adjusting to imbalance or fall hazards in the environment. As a caregiver, what can you do to help your loved one with dementia avoid falls?
- Improve lighting
Dementia changes how the brain interprets visual information and can cause misperceptions and illusions. Replace dim lightbulbs with daylight equivalent LED bulbs. Overhead lighting is better than lamps because it produces fewer shadows. Motion-sensing light switches are particularly helpful in bathrooms, stairwells and hallways.
- Create clear pathways
Because reaction time slows as dementia progresses, people benefit from wide, uncluttered pathways, free of tripping hazards. Remove throw rugs, electrical cords, pet toys or any clutter on the floor.
- Review Medications
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medication list to decrease fall risk. Some medications increase the risk of falls for adults with dementia, including blood-pressure lowering drugs, benzodiazepines (such as diazepam, alprazolam), and antipsychotics (such as olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone).
People with dementia and family caregivers experience fall-prevention and mood benefits from regular exercise. Look for classes called “A Matter of Balance” or Tai chi exercise groups at your local senior center, YMCA or Area Agency on Aging.
If you are caring for a loved one with dementia in the St. Louis area, call Memory Care Home Solutions for personalized help with fall prevention, home safety and dementia care strategies!