In this tenth installment of chapter excerpts from the book You Oughta Know: Acknowledging, Recognizing, and Responding to the Steps in the Journey Through Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, we look at the ninth step in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.
This post includes an excerpt from chapter 9, which gives extensive information on how to acknowledge, recognize, and respond to the ninth step in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease: balance, stability, and falls.
This chapter discusses all of the reasons that the neurological damage of these diseases affect balance, stability, and lead to an marked increase in fall risks and actual falls.
This is the ninth step in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s disease.
This chapter also discusses practical, real-time, and loving ways we as caregivers should respond and help our loved ones as we negotiate this step in the journey.
This series begins with the forward to the book and an explanation of why I wrote this book and why you should read it.
The series continues with the inclusion of excerpts from Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, and, with this post, Chapter 9.
The steps in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease are presented sequentially in the order in which they actually appear in the course of these neurological diseases.
There are no other books that literally walk through each step in sequential order as they emerge in the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Additionally, there is no other book that discusses:
- The process we as caregivers acknowledge each new step – there is an acceptance period that we have to go through
- The process we use to guide ourselves and our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease through the recognition phase of each step
- The concrete, loving, and practical information on how we should respond and how we can help guide our loved ones’ responses
These are the things that make You Oughta Know: Acknowledging, Recognizing, and Responding to the Steps in the Journey Through Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease unique and stand alone in the plethora of books about dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Excerpt “Chapter 9: ‘I Keep on Fallin’”
“While many of our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease are in good shape physically when these diseases begin to manifest themselves, they eventually reach this step of the journey where there is a great risk of falling. Attached to this risk is the possibility of broken bones – especially hips, which may be so badly damaged that our loved ones become confined to wheelchairs or bed for the rest of their lives – and head injuries, which can be fatal.
The reasons that our loved ones are increasingly susceptible to falls are:
Gait changes are common as dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease progress in our loved ones. One of the most characteristic gait changes is shuffling. This is especially pronounced in our loved ones who have Lewy Body dementia and Parkinson’s Disease, but it becomes a feature of all dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease by this step of the journey.
Shuffling is when our loved ones don’t pick their feet up off the floor to take steps, but instead slide them across the floor to move forward. One of the inherent dangers in this is catching the front part of shoes on the floor – especially carpet – and falling forward.
Shuffling can be both a result of neurological impairment – not remembering how to take normal steps to walk – and muscle weakness from lack of use.
The most important thing we can do for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease to help minimize shuffling is to have a physical therapist on our care teams to help regain muscle strength and work on gait normalization. Additionally, if possible, we should be helping our loved ones maintain muscle strength and walk with them daily encouraging them, both by example and by instruction, to use a normal stepping gait to walk.”