Something many of us take for granted is our mobility. For most able-bodied Americans, getting up and walking to the fridge or getting out of the car and walking into a store is just a part of our daily activities.
But maintaining mobility becomes precious to us as we age. Stiff joints, sore muscles and other issues can make getting up and out more challenging. That’s when we begin to look for ways to preserve what we still have and slow the progression of health issues that impair our mobility.
Alzheimer’s and other dementias can affect the areas of the brain responsible for muscle coordination and balance. That creates a double whammy for older individuals who may already be experiencing age-related mobility issues. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia you may have begun to notice that their gait has become more unsteady. This increases the potential for falls which can cause serious damage.
And yet, keeping them seated out of concern they may fall is by no means a good alternative. Remaining sedentary for long periods of time can lead to other issues such as poor circulation and loss of muscle tone. It can also cause an individual to lose their sense of independence which, in turn, can lead to a feeling of isolation and ultimately depression.
Here are three steps caregivers can take for a loved one with dementia to help alleviate issues surrounding a decrease in strength, balance, and muscle coordination:
- Mobility aids. Look into mobility aids such as canes and walkers to enable your loved one to continue to use their arms and legs as much as possible. Let mom or dad try them out first to make sure you get a good fit for their needs and body size. Look into purchasing shoes with non-slip soles as well.
- Muscle strengthening and balance exercises. Today there are plenty of classes for seniors to help maintain balance and keep muscles strong and limber. You can find them through your local parks and recreation centers, senior centers and local schools.
- Environment safety precautions. There are probably more tripping hazards in your loved one’s home than you realize. Rug edges, slippery floors, uneven pavement, furniture that sits out from the wall, dog or cat toys sitting around, are just a few of them. Do a walk through and make note of anything that can cause tripping and move them to another area. Make sure rugs are properly tacked down.
Fortunately for our residents, Anthem Memory Care communities were built from the ground up to cater to the mobility challenges of aging individuals with dementia. Our hallways are wide and light and easy to navigate forming a large circle throughout our building. Our courtyards have clean, even walkways and steps that are easy to see.
With a little effort and attention, you can help your loved one maintain their mobility as long as possible. By keeping their environment safe you will help make them feel more confident in getting up, walking, exercising and keeping their body as strong as possible, for as long as possible.