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When I first came to Delray Beach to take care of my mother, she was falling down all the time.
Once, I found her laying in the parking lot and she could not get up. She was shaking like a leaf.
Another time she fell down and broke her little finger. It took us over ten hours in the emergency room that time around. She would fall and couldn't get back up.
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This might sound hard to believe but my mother did not fall once for over seven years, and not until the last three weeks of her life.
I attribute this to exercise on a treadmill, a balance exercise I developed in the gym, and some core exercises.
As time went on my mother could not walk more very far (more than about 10 feet) without holding on to my hand or arm, or grabbing whatever she could find to hold on to as she walked (like a chair or the wall).
Nevertheless, she kept on walking. I am still grateful, and amazed, that she did not fall.
My mother never used a walker, although we did resort to a wheelchair for our daily out into the "bright light" excursions during the last many months.
Perhaps some of you can describe your own experiences with walking, balance and falling.
I would suggest as soon as you see problems with walking, falling, or shuffling feet in an elderly person that you get their memory tested immediately.
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Poor balance may indicate memory decline
In a study, researchers found that Alzheimer's patients with an abnormal one-leg balance test experienced greater decline in brain function over two years than those with a normal one-leg balance test.
"Our results reinforce, in an Alzheimer's disease population, the growing evidence suggesting a link between physical performances and cognitive decline," study chief Dr. Yves Rolland, of the University of Toulouse III, France, noted in a written statement. "If these results are confirmed by other data, the one-leg balance test could be adopted in clinical practice to identify Alzheimer's disease patients at high risk of rapid cognitive decline," the researcher added.
According to a report of the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 686 patients with Alzheimer's disease were evaluated by a geriatrician every six months for up to two years, and their degree of cognitive impairment was measured.
At the same time, a "one-leg balance" test was given, where a participant was asked to stand on one leg for as long as possible. The test was considered abnormal when the participant was unable to stand on one leg for 5 seconds or more.
At the outset, roughly 15 percent of the study subjects had an abnormal one-leg balance test and these patients were significantly older and had significantly more severe cognitive impairment.
In analyses taking into account factors that might influence the results, the researchers found that subjects with an abnormal one-leg balance test had significantly greater decline in memory and thinking at 12, 18 and 24 months.
For example, the average decline on the Mini-Mental State Examination at 24 months was 9.2 points when balance impairment was present, compared with just 3.8 points with no balance impairment.
"The one-leg balance test is a stress test that may characterize subjects with low cognitive reserve," Rolland and colleagues conclude.
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized Influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The Alzheimer's Reading Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles, and the ARR has more than 343,000 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.Search more than 4,000 original articles in the Alzheimer's Reading Room Knowledge Base