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Do Alzheimer's patients lose the ability to walk?

Yes, it can happen. Alzheimer’s affects brain regions responsible for movement and balance. For example, if neurons in the cerebellum deteriorate due to Alzheimer’s, it can lead to paralysis. Commonly, it is observable that an individual gradually loses the ability to walk. Ultimately, someone with Alzheimer’s needs 24/7 care when Alzheimer’s progressed so significantly.

Losing the ability to walk is not part of normal aging.

However, studies suggest that sitting most of the time may contribute to losing the ability to walk.

Table of Content
How does Alzheimer's affect walking?
How to help someone with Alzheimer’s who walks slowly?
A word from the author
List of Resources
About the Author

How does Alzheimer's affect walking?

Someone with Alzheimer’s may gradually lose his walking ability. At the beginning of the disease, the impact is not significant. Once the cerebellum starts deterioration due to Alzheimer’s the changes become noticeable. Then, a person might seem slow or clumsy. Some individuals with severe Alzheimer’s are completely incapable to walk, stand up or hold their weight. Movements like shifting positions might be performable on a chair or in bed.

Alzheimer’s disease causes the person to take a series of short steps when trying to turn around.

This is something that can be observed easily.

In such a scenario the person might fall backward.

This happens due to unstable balance.

As a caregiver or family member, you might notice blue spots at various spots on their body.

It can be an indicator that your beloved one falls often.

At this point, consider preparing for a smooth transition in a nursing home.

An alternative could be a full-time caregiver, too.

How to help someone with Alzheimer’s who walks slowly?

Four things may help an Alzheimer’s patient to walk better, including (1) better footwear, (2) mobility aid, (3) physiotherapy, and (4) walking companion. A companion could be a friend, family member, or caregiver.

It is not easy to take care of an Alzheimer’s patient. Especially, if one has mobility constraints.

Here are four tips that might help.

How to help someone with Alzheimer’s who walks slowly?
4 Tips
1. Better footwear. Be aware that Alzheimer’s patients still can have problems with walking that are not caused by the disease. Maybe it is just about the shoes. They might be uncomfortable for longer walks. Besides, they might be too small.
2. Mobility aid. A walking cane or wheelchair can bring a boost in mobility for the patient. However, they might refuse to use them. Just make sure that it is in their best interest.
3. Physiotherapy. You might want to consider physiotherapy for your beloved one. A physiotherapist can help with a set of exercises that help to strengthen muscles. Besides, they can help with flexibility issues, too.
4. Walking companion. Sometimes a walking companion can make all the difference. It can boost their motivation to keep up with the other person. As long as the individual feels confident and secure to walk with the companion.

A word from the author

Alzheimer’s disease causes various difficulties. An individual might not be any more capable to perform well in day-to-day tasks. Considering that one might gradually lose mobility can be frustrating for both the caregiver and the patient.

However, it is important to realize that taking care of your beloved one means dependence on the patient. You are the person that can help them with mobility issues. The amount of value that you bring the patient is extreme. So be aware of what huge role you play for them.

You might even prevent a comorbid depression without realizing it yourself.

List of Resources

Patric Pförtner

B. Sc. Psychology

Hi, my name is Patric Pfoertner and I graduated 2020 from the NBU. Currently, I work and study in Germany. My specialisations are Cognitive Psychology paired with a good slack of Clinical Psychology. Just this year I started publishing my research in the CBB Journal. Feel free to read about it at ResearchGate. Otherwise, click the other button to read my full CV.

About Author ResearchGate

P.S.: I am available for psychological consultation, too.