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Ask the Expert – Why Does My Father Have Trouble Walking – Alzheimer’s Disease and Ambulation

Ask the Expert – Why Does My Father Have Trouble Walking – Alzheimer’s Disease and Ambulation

Alzheimer's Care West Palm BeachQuestion: My dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and seems to be having more trouble getting around.

Answer: The person in the early to mild stage of Alzheimer’s disease usually has full movement but as the disease progresses, problems with ambulation will begin to occur.  Allow your dad to enjoy his independence as long as possible and encourage exercise and safe ambulation.

  • Be aware that problems with ambulation show up slowly, and can come and go depending upon the circumstances.  For example:  While waiting in line, taking a few steps forward and then stopping can become confusing.  You may have to gently keep urging the person forward.  Avoid walking on shiny surfaces, as these surfaces can appear icy or slick to persons with dementia.
  • Leaving a crowded place can also be a challenge, because the person with Alzheimer’s disease may become frightened by all the movement and want to hold back.
  • Getting out of cars can take longer, and walking into a store or other building can become slower.  Telling a person with Alzheimer’s disease to “hurry up” doesn’t help.  It’s important to be aware that the person has fallen behind you and that you need to slow your pace.
  • Think of alternative forms of exercise, such as tossing a ball, or rhythm exercises, if a person is hesitant to go out for walks alone (even if he previously thoroughly enjoyed going for long and daily walks).  Think about going to a shopping mall where the person can walk safely with you.  Bring along two friends,.  One can walk with your loved one, and the other can sit ith you where your loved one can still see you.  This gives you a respite and also provides exercise for the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Be alert for a loss of control when going up or down stairs.  Stumbling can be a dangerous problem.
  • Register yourself and the person with Alzheimer’s disease in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program

If you have any questions, reach out to the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center at 855-476-7600