If you or someone you care for has cognitive problems, take precautions to prevent falls. People with mild cognitive impairment or dementia are twice as likely to fall as their cognitively healthy same-age counterparts, and they are more likely to end up in a long-term care facility in the aftermath, according to a paper in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in February 2018.
Cognitive problems increase the risk of walking impairment and instability in many ways. In particular, “executive function, a set of cognitive processes that includes attention, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, is essential for normal walking,” the authors stated.
General strategies to enhance mobility and prevent falls include reviewing medications to make sure they do not further impair cognition and reaction time; undertaking strength and balance training; correcting vision and hearing problems; and “fall-proofing” the home to remove hazards to walking. Of course, cognitively impaired people may be less responsive to some of these interventions because of limitations in learning and following recommendations.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Is It Normal Forgetfulness or MCI?