balance dementia

There are many reasons that people can start to lose their balance as they get older. Often, these causes can be linked back to the brain. In some cases, disorders of the brain that have progressed quite far can cause a loss of balance. However, some early-stage diseases can also cause a loss of balance.

Dementia can cause poor balance at several stages. Dementia is actually a set of symptoms that can be caused by several different disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and many other kinds.

Although Alzheimer’s disease is a memory and thinking disorder, it can actually interfere with a person’s balance too. These problems become more commonplace as the disease progresses, but many people do not link these two problems together, which is why vascular dementia can actually go untreated for a long time.

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  1. What is vascular dementia?
  2. What causes vascular dementia?
  3. Difference between loss of balance from vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s?
  4. How to aid those with Dementia

What is vascular dementia?

Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia in the UK. However, because it is not as well-known as Alzheimer’s disease, it often goes unrecognized.

Vascular dementia affects the brain differently from traditional Alzheimer’s. In Alzheimer’s, the nerve cells in the brain break down, causing people to have problems with memory and thinking. In vascular dementia, parts of the brain don’t get enough blood carrying oxygen and nutrients, so it causes the cells to not be able to function properly.

What causes vascular dementia?

If blood carrying nutrients and oxygen cannot reach the brain, this can cause vascular dementia. Typically, this is because the vessels are blocked or narrowed. This can be the result of a stroke, although this isn’t always the case. Strokes take place when the supply of blood carrying oxygen to the brain is suddenly cut off – however not all people with strokes will develop vascular dementia.

“Silent” strokes can also cause vascular dementia, especially as they build up over time. In many cases, vascular dementia will only be discovered in patients after the impact of several strokes has added up to a major disability.

Difference between loss of balance from vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Typically, a loss of balance will be a sign of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. However, if older people have trouble balancing but do not exhibit signs of memory loss, or any early signs of dementia, then this loss of balance can be attributed to vascular dementia.

Typically, balance problems are exhibited when disease affects the structures at the back of the brain – the cerebellum – but impaired balance can have many causes.

Catching the disease early helps to limit the impact and severity, but requires a knowledge of the risk factors and symptoms. If you suspect that either you or someone you know has vascular dementia, you should talk with a doctor.

If you increasingly experience having poor balance and need to make reasonable adjustments in your home regarding bathing, we can help. We have a range of different products including wet rooms, walk-in showers and walk-in baths that make bathing far easier and safer for you. Some of the ways that accessible disability bathrooms differ from typical bathrooms are the addition of features such as handrails, anti-slip floors, seats and low threshold entry points, all designed to minimise any chance of accidents. All in all, helping you or a loved one to better retain your independence. 

How to aid those with Dementia

Everyone who has dementia is unique, and when thinking about ways to aid them in their daily lives, you should tailor your approach to them and what you think will work best.

Dementia does provide many difficulties with everyday life and many safety aspects will need to be in place when interacting with parts of their home, especially places with various safety hazards. This is alongside when being in a public space, where one must be more alert.

There are many ways that you can aid those with dementia. Here are some ways that can help:

  1. Stick to a routine. Ensure the person with dementia has a strong daily home and out-of-home routine.
  2. Create a reminder system to ease new and old routines.
  3. Provide physical support where you can, especially when walking or taking a bath or shower.
  4. Try to minimise the risk the person with dementia can put themselves in. A good example is helping them when they cook, or doing the cooking fully for them, depending on their ability.
  5. Do activities to keep the mind active and engaged. This could be any number of things, such as puzzles, crosswords, games, music or even looking at photo albums. Work with the person to find the best and most helpful activity that works for them.
  6. Ensure that they do regular exercise. Daily exercise improves people’s moods and of course helps their physical health. Something as simple as going for a walk, or even lifting some very light weights safely, could make a difference to the person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Make sure that whatever exercise you are doing is safe for the person, of course.