Jul 3, 2014

So Bob, do you think your mom's falling was an early indicator?

Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's Life

Our reader Mike Good made the following comment under the article - Reasons for falling down and losing balance.
So Bob, do you think your mom's falling was an early indicator?

The fact that once you got her to the gym, she avoided falls for more than 7 years makes me wonder if her falls were more about her reduced mobility as an older adult.

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Mike, yes my mother's falling was an earlier indicator.

However, there was an earlier more important indicator.

She started scraping her feet on the ground. 

To replicate this just keep your feet on the ground when you walk, don't pick them up. You should hear the sound.

I bet a lot of you have already.

Mike, my mother was getting older and certainly aging was a factor. Keep in mind, however, other than the Alzheimer's, my mother was in really good health, and all her parts were working fine.

Here is the background.

In 2001, and while in New York, my mother walked 15 blocks each way with me to have breakfast (30 blocks). My mother was 85 years old at the times. Shortly thereafter she started making the very distinctive shuffling sound with her feet. But even then she would walk 4 blocks to the grocery store and carry back two bags of groceries.

When I asked my good friends and subsequently two doctors about the shuffling sound of her feet they all said the same thing -

She is just getting old.

I did accept that explanation for a long time until I realized something was dramatically wrong. The fourth doctor diagnosed my mother.


Most people think and belief that when a person is older, walking slowly, or even in a walker they can't get on a treadmill.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is easier to walk on a treadmill and you can adjust the pace all the way down to a pace of snail if necessary. For a setting of 1.0 would equal walking a mile in 60 minutes. And yes, you can make it even slower.

On the treadmill you have a panic button which can be attached to the shirt and it will automatically stop the treadmill. You also have three different handles the person can hang on to while walking.

Are you ready for this? There is also a great big red button labeled stop that you can hit to stop the treadmill. My mother when she could no longer remember the right now and last minutes, could still hit the red stop button. She never forgot it.

Did you know that persons living with dementia will often eat more off red plates

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Mike, when my mother stepped off the treadmill she was standing up straighter, walking faster and could walk right out of the gym with little or no assistance.

The real breakthroughs on the falling came when I started having my mother do to the stand up, sit down, exercise from the end of a workout bench. I got that idea from Five Factor Fitness and then changed it to fit a person living with dementia. This exercise I think caused her balance to improve dramatically.

In addition, I found the perfect shoe for my mother. See - Aerosoles, Alzheimer's and Falling.

Mike, may of my mother's close female relatives lived into the 90s and even over 100 years of age. One of there best features were they were still walking really well and doing there own shopping.
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Mike, by 2007 I started saying my mother would die from her feet up. I concluded this because the feet are farthest from the brain, so it only stands to reason that the signal to the feet gets weaker and weaker as the brain shuts down.

By the same token, I also decided I would keep those feet going as long as possible.

Mike, my mother fell for the first time on Saturday, May 5, 2012 and there was nothing left in her legs for the first time. Just dead weight.

She went to Heaven on May 25, 2012. Twenty days later.

Dear Friends of the Alzheimer's Reading Room try and keep those feet moving.

God bless you all.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room