Dad Keeps Falling - Walking with eyes closed

CraigC

Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
6,632
London
Hi All,

Just wondered if any of you have had similar experiences or can share any advice.

I've mentioned this a few times before but dad is having increasing falls at the home. His eyesight has deteriorated over the last few years and it is quite likely that this is related to his dementia. However, the last few falls have been more dangerous and he is walking with his eyes closed all the time. This is happening increasingly at the home. He is still an avid wanderer and is still at is happiest (relative happiness) when wandering the corridors or garden at the home.

The carers have noticed that he now wanders with his eyes closed, particularly in the last month. It is miraculous that he does not fall more often and they say that he manages to find his way eyes closed. I've seen this on many visits - he can keep his eyes closed for the whole visit. His falls generally occur when he trips over a chair or another resident’s foot. These falls are getting more serious and I'm popping in to check him out after another fall today, he has a nasty knock to the head. It is only a matter of time before he really hurts himself.

My first reaction is to check his eyes again, but the GP did this last time and no sign of conjunctivitis or soreness. They do get dry as the heating is on high all day, but I'm beginning to think this is yet another evil sign of the progression of Alzheimers.

We cannot stop him walking; he is still strong and need this activity. Apart from that it calms him. He does open his eyes sometimes on strong verbal stimulation, bit this is not practical all the time.

It cannot be the medication. He has been off the quetiapine for exactly 4 weeks now, both the morning and evening dose. There is a possibility of course that the quetiapine has caused some permanent damage after using it for two years. But eliminating the drugs has definitely not been the holy Mecca we dreamed about.

I really don't want him to stop walking or to go back on another medication to stop him walking. He has spent long enough on drugs. However, these symptoms may cause a lot of suffering over the next few months.

So two specific questions if anyone has experiences please?

  1. How many of you have noticed these symptoms at the later stages? Keeping eyes closed all the time, particularly when walking or eating or carrying out other day to day activities?
  2. Has anyone found any treatment to help prevent or at least minimise this condition?
As always, thanks for sharing your experiences; I know you all have so many problems of your own.

Kind Regards
Craig
 
Last edited:

noelphobic

Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
3,452
Liverpool
I've got no experience of this with my Mum Craig, as she has been immobile for two years now. I do sometimes wonder how much she can see and think it is possible that she may have cataracts, but it would not be practical or kind to try to treat them at this stage. Bit of a long shot, but is there any chance that your Dad could have cataracts? Although I wouldn't have thought that would explain him walking with his eyes closed.

Sorry, wish I could be of more help. I can see how it must be an awful worry for you.
 

Skye

Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
17,000
SW Scotland
John also has his eyes closed almost all the time, but he sleeps most of the day. He's also almost entirely immobile as a result of his infections, though they do try to get him walking again. So I've never seen him walk with eyes closed.

One of the other residents walks the corridors endlessly, with his eyes fixed to the ground, holding on to the handrails. I assume, but don't know, that his eyes are open, and I've never seen him fall.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,512
Kent
My mother was a corridor walker Craig, but her eyes stared, she hardly blinked.

Are your father`s eyes shut tightly, or do you think he can see from beneath his eyelids, not that it helps, but I was wondering if he sees just a bit, when he walks.
 

germain

Registered User
Jul 7, 2007
342
Hello Craig,

Our Mum has been exactly the same for a long time (although not terribly mobile) and it took a lot of persuasion to make her open her eyes at all, even when trying to eat. She's at the stage now where her consultant is slowing down the Reminyl with a view to taking her off it completely as it isn't doing her any good , any more. (had AZ for about 4 years)

However, in the last couple of months things have inproved a lot on the eye front.


Anyway, to get to the point !

1. Was suggested on TP that she closes them to blot out stress & confusion- yes, we do think she does this.


2. The optician identified a couple of ingrowing eyelashes on her lower lid that the GP & us hadn't even noticed (in fact no-one at all had noticed these !)- these are now treated by holding her lower eyelid down with a small piece of micropore tape stuck from lower lid down onto her cheek. He said that the sheer irritation would make her want to close her eyes all the time as this was the only way she could stop it.


3. Her memory consultant suggested that it was very common for AZ people to react to constant nagging low grade pain by closing their eyes and suggested a regular dose of paracetomol. Mum has mild arthritis due to aging (increased because she sits for so long) so we gave this a try too. Do you think your Dad walks around so much because it eases his stiffness or is it just the AZ effects ?


Anyway - the three things combined have almost solved the problem . We think stress has lowered since she's gone into the CH, the tape stays on her cheeks so her eye is not so irritating and she gets paracetomol 3 x daily for the arthritis.

Hope this helps we couldn't believe what simple things may have caused the problem with our Mum !

regards
Germain
 

CraigC

Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
6,632
London
Do you think your Dad walks around so much because it eases his stiffness or is it just the AZ effects ?
Dad has always been a walker, right from the early stages. Used to go wandering around bournemouth and the beaches for hours. He made me walk up mountains when I was a kid ;)

I've just spent some time with him and after our usual hugs and chats observed him while we went on a wander together, I then let him wander on his own and observed how he handles obstacles etc.

He does not seem in any pain, although a little out of sorts. But dad is definitely leaning to one side more than he used to which makes it hard for him to negotiate obstacles and keep his balance. He is looking down all the time and I did seem him close his eyes as if in a semi trance.

Germain, I take on board you comments regarding the closing of eyes as a reaction to pain. However, dads tends to wince when in any pain these days. I'll mention all your comments to the care staff who have been very considerate.

A couple of the residents at the earliers stages look out for dad when he walks and call out if he is about to fall which is lovely.

I'm very interested to hear that other have experienced this and thank you all for the pointers.

My observation today made me feel it is an unfortunate progression and he looked so sad and vunerable today, it was hard to leave. He is not safe on his own in the garden any more and will soon need a lot more observation. Did not have the heart to tell mum who has so many of her own problems, but will just have to keep an eye on things for now.

So thanks a million, and I've noted all your comments on my TTD list along with an optician visit and GP.

Sad to see a marvellous gentleman suffering like this.

Kind Regards
Craig
 

Nell

Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
1,170
68
Australia
Artificial Tears are available at a pharmacy and are very useful for lubricating dry eyes. You do need to administer them regularly however, and this may not be possible in the Care Home setting. Also your Dad may refuse to allow drops in his eyes . . . . ?? The drops are just like real tears and do not sting or hurt in any way.

The only thng I can think of for his head injuries is a helmet??? :eek: Would he wear a bike helmet?? Or would you feel that made him to obviously "different"?? Not an ideal solution - just the only one I can think of.

Helmets are quite often used for people with uncontrolled epilepsy because they can easily hurt their heads when having an episode.

So sorry that you and your dear Dad have to face this - yet another dementia related problem on the long, long road.
Every best wish, Craig.
 

germain

Registered User
Jul 7, 2007
342
Hello Craig
Just thought of something else - but DO check for the eyelash problem - Mums eyelid was totally turned in on itself BUT Mum has had several TIAs recently which has massively worsened her AZ and along with cataracts and macular degeneration these have made her eyesight worse and probably less focussed - she used to complain of giddiness & the room moving when her sight started to fail - could closing be a response to this ?

It really is strange isn't it - and watching when she tries to eat with her eyes closed and misses her mouth by miles with the spoon is something else - she will also pick up and eat tissues, bits of jigsaw puzzle etc. We can only guess its because "if its on her tray it must be food, musn't it ?"
Regards
germain
 

alfjess

Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
1,213
south lanarkshire
Hi Craig

I don't think this will help you much, but Mum was walking with her eyes closed.

I think she was exhausted and sleeping on her feet. But being extremely agitated she couldn't stop walking, exhausted though she was.

Is your Dad agitated and maybe feeling tired, but just has to walk?

Hope you can get to the bottom of it

Alfjess
 

Lynne

Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
3,433
Suffolk,England
Hi Craig

Has your Dad has his sight checked for WET macular degeneration. This causes eyesight to get worse MUCH MORE QUICKLY than the more common age-related MD, my Mum has lost most of the sight in her right eye in 6 months. To my shame, I was putting the fact that she had stopped reading, doing X-words etc. down to worsening Alz, until I realised that she was still doing the words from the TV programm Countdown.

She also sits for long periods with her eyes closed, but is often asleep! (tho she denies it - "I was just resting my eyes")
 

Margarita

Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
10,824
london
My mother saw an eye specialist for her yearly diabetic eye scanning , he was showing me images of the back of her eyes on the computer , he notices an incase of dark clouds which indicate cataracts , it even show spots of diabetic, but at a level that was OK , but not the cataracts in the left eye he said mum could be seeing things misty , but she said she could see fine .

Just wondering could you ask doctor for a referral to an eye specialist , also maybe am thinking would your father cooperate with the testing anyway .


Has your Dad has his sight checked for WET macular degeneration.
What is that , as I have never heard of it, how do they do that ?
 

CraigC

Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
6,632
London
Is your Dad agitated and maybe feeling tired, but just has to walk?
yes. To be honest I think dad is agitated most of the time. The Alzheimers symptoms do not give him much peace just agitation and confusion most of the time. The constant walking and wandering has been one of the symptoms for many many years. It is as if he has been trying to run away from it for years.

I'll get the optician to see him asap and thanks for the tip on Artificial Tears. Weird, mum has just got artifical sylvia due to her COPD, how wierd life has turned out for them both.

Thanks for all the tips and please don't hessitate to provide more.

The progression for all of us is full of surprises and angst, but the empathy and knowledge on this forum is goldust.

Having a funny old weekend but glad for TP.
lerv
Craig
 

alfjess

Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
1,213
south lanarkshire
I think dad is agitated most of the time. The Alzheimers symptoms do not give him much peace just agitation and confusion most of the time. The constant walking and wandering has been one of the symptoms for many many years. It is as if he has been trying to run away from it for years.
Craig
Hi Craig
This sounds like my Mum, but she is constantly agitated. I think, Mum has also been trying to run away from it for years. Good description.

The consultant has prescribed a pain relief patch for Mum and she is on a pain chart?? He thinks her agitation is due to her being in pain, although she can't tell them.

Have they tried any pain relief for your Dad, it may only be a matter of trying some parecetamol?

Good luck.
Alfjess
 

CraigC

Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
6,632
London
Hi Alfjess

I'll discuss the pain possibility with the home. It is so hard to tell if someone is in pain when they can no longer communicate. I sometimes think a regular full medical check up would be helpful, but think the home and GP have enough on their plate.

It is particulary difficult to diagnose any problem without accurate symptoms.

I do like you idea of trying pain relief for a couple of days, and cannot see the harm in mild pain medication.

Thanks so much.
What is a pain chart by the way? I'd google it but prefer first hand knowledge

thanks
Craig
 

Margarita

Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
10,824
london
but think the home and GP have enough on their plate

Hope I don't sound rude , but I would not care less about how much work they have on they plate .

Your father got more on his plate then any of them , his keeping them in a Job , so make them do they job that they paid to do .

Wishing you all the best .
 

germain

Registered User
Jul 7, 2007
342
Hello Craig

Ditto - not able to ask or get sensible response from our Mum re pain but she is now on soluble paracetomol 3 x daily and its helped.

regards
germain
 

alfjess

Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
1,213
south lanarkshire
Hi Craig

Mum is in a psyche ward at the hospital.

I don't know if pain chart is the correct wording, but basically the staff have to chart her reactions and facial expressions.

As far as I know there is a rating 1 -15 for reactions, observed by staff, which they think is pertaining to pain.
I could be wrong, because it hasn't really been explained to me, but I will now ask the staff to explain it in more depth and get back to you

I agree a few parecetamol can't do any harm to begin with, but watch for conspitation.

To-day my brother visited Mum and she didn't open her eyes the whole visit, but was still determined to get her clothes of. I think though, my Mum is more advanced in this horrible disease than your Dad

Good luck
Hope your Dad is feeling better

Alfjess
 

CraigC

Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
6,632
London
Hi Alfjess,

Appreciate the help. Will also mention it to dad carers. And thanks Germain, I've learnt a lot on this thread and am really glad I asked. This advice means a lot to me.

It is indeed a horrible disease, somedays it makes me more angry than others. All we can do is minimise the suffering and keep on top of things best we can.

Kindest Regards
Craig