Fall Prevention With Dementia

How to reduce your risk of falling when living with dementia

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This page was last updated on 9 August 2022

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For Families and Individuals Seeking Home Care Services

    Dementia is a syndrome that causes loss of memory, problems with communication and a decrease in cognitive function. Dementia can affect everyday life and activities. Certain symptoms of dementia can increase your risk of falling and make it harder to remember how to act safely when you fall.

    How Dementia Can Increase Your Risk of Falling

    People living with dementia are at a higher risk of falling. Their risk is higher due to:

    • Symptoms of reduced mobility, balance problems and muscle weakness
    • Reduced coordination
    • Lack of exercise
    • Visual-spatial problems
    • Medication side effects
    • Poor judgement
    • Fatigue
    • Memory difficulties
    • Slower reactions
    • Communication problems – aren’t able to express needs or ask for help as easily

    There are numerous different types of dementia and it shows differently for everybody, this means dementia-related fall risks are not consistent among everyone with dementia.

    Dementia Medication and Falling

    Medications can cause side effects such as drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness and lower blood pressure. These side effects increase your risk of falling so it is important to speak to your GP if you are experiencing them so you can manage them appropriately.

    Emotional Effects of Dementia

    Dementia can increase your risk of developing depression and anxiety.

    Mental Health Conditions Which Lower Your Mood Can Cause:
    • You to become Less active – This will affect your bone and muscle strength.
    • Negative affect on your diet and reduce your appetite – This will also affect your bone and muscle strength.
    • Unhealthy habits such as drinking more alcohol – Alcohol can affect your stability and when consumed in large quantities over time can affect your bone strength.
    • Negative impact on your sleep schedule – When functioning on a lack of sleep your reactions and judgement is affected

    Speak to your GP if you are feeling down and make them aware of how your dementia is affecting your mood.

    Dementia Friendly Home Environment

    There are ways you can adapt your home to make it more dementia-friendly, including making your home easy to navigate, free from hazards and having measures in place if a fall does happen. These include:

    • Keep your home well lit – You could use nightlights, glow in the dark light switches, lights in wardrobes and cupboards, outside motion sensor light, a lamp next to your bed, voice-activated lights.
    • Label doors and rooms
    • Use contrasting colours so objects stand out from each other – dark handrails on light walls, bright mats on a dark floor, Light furniture on dark floors, contrasting coloured toilet seat, Bright non-slip tape on the edge of each step.
    • Keep pathways clear and clutter-free
    • Clean up spillages immediately
    • Use non-slip mats
    • Avoid changing your furniture layout
    • Keep objects you use often inconsistent places
    • Keep frequently used items within easy reach

    For more information on how to keep your home safe and hazard-free read here.

    Getting Help if You Fall

    By knowing what to do if you fall and how to react calmly and safely you can reduce your risk of serious injury. Falling can be a traumatic experience and cause intense feelings of panic especially if you don’t know what to do.

    Creating a falls plan means you will receive help quickly after a fall and know how to calm yourself down in the situation.

    Ways of Getting Help if You Fall Include:
    • Having emergency numbers saved in a mobile phone or written down next to a landline
    • Keeping a mobile phone on you at all time
    • Consider having a personal alarm on you at all times
    • Consider a fall alert device
    • Arrange with a friend or family member to check up on you throughout the day

    Find out more about creating a falls plan here.

    Dementia Friendly Activities to Improve Mobility

    Dementia can affect your coordination, mobility, balance and strength it can also cause people to become withdrawn resulting in them leaving the house less and less.

    Getting regular exercise is critical for your health and fall prevention, it keeps your muscles and bones strong and reduces your risk of developing other health conditions. Studies have also found that regular physical activity may slow down the progression of Dementia.

    Activities That Improve Mobility Include:
    • Dancing to your favourite song
    • Yoga
    • Walking with a family member
    • Water exercises
    • Cooking – This helps with co-ordination
    • Gardening
    • Chair exercises
    • Household chores
    • Tai Chi