Falls in late stage alzheimer's

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Jane1, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. Jane1

    Jane1 Registered User

    Mar 3, 2007
    Hi everyone, it's been a long time since i've written on here but here i am again to once again ask for advice! My dad who is 76 and in a care home is now in the later stages of alzheimers. Up until 4 weeks ago he was still fairly active and would often pace the corriders all day, hence why despite eating well still, he's only 7 1/2 stone.However during the last 4 weeks he's endured 7 falls, the last three have been 2 head injuries and a dislocted coller bone which he now has a sling for. All general blood tests and urine are ok although he is aneamic but not enough to cause the falls and his blood pressure is stable. Medication isn't an issue, he's on very little. He's also losing his ability to feed himself too. I've wondered if it's progression of his illness but have also read that the patient can lose coordination and can forget how to perform complex motor tasks like walking.
    just wondered if anyone else has come across this and if there is anything else we can do for dad other than be there as much as we are able. Thank you for listening.
  2. Heather777

    Heather777 Registered User

    Jul 24, 2008
    Hi Jane, I am not sure that I can offer any advice to you. My dad is in the same position, he is 78 and is far advanced in his dementia. He has also suffered several falls, mostly involving banging his head as he doesn't put his hans out. They thing with it is that he doesn't know he has done that and never complains that it hurts him. He has also lost the ability to feed himself and now has actually lost he ability to walk as well.

    All I can think is that you need to ensure that the social worker, if you have one, is involved in a review for him. I have kept on to his residential care that I wanted them to feed him because he couldn't do it but now he is a nursing home they do.

    I often think that as this illness progresses you get used to the things changing and work around it but actually a review of the situation might bring in more understanding and support.

    So I can't offer any advice accept to say that you our not on your own in the situation.

  3. jc141265

    jc141265 Registered User

    Sep 16, 2005
    The ability to walk is often lost eventually in the later stages of the disease, but on the other hand it can remain in some people like my father who is in very late stages, 12 years after diagnosis...but then he was 54 when diagnosed so otherwise was relatively very fit and healthy to begin with.

    So the falls can be caused by the progression of the disease, yes definitely. Falls can also be caused by medications that can affect balance, so if you know his medication has been changed recently then or if there is a chance the home has changed the timing of his medications, this is something worth investigating. Timing can matter, because if the medication that may have been taken before bed is now being administered in the morning, it can mean its effects on coordination and balance may not have been noticeable before.

    However, from your description of the sudden onset of sporadic falls, my immediate thought is that your father could be suffering from mini-seizures. Have you ever noticed if your father jerks suddenly whilst sitting down, like he has had a small electric shock? Little jerks like this are called myoclonic jerks, and in my Dad's case these days although he still has the ability to walk we have to watch him carefully when he does because the frequency and strength of these jerks are increasing and they can floor him.

    I think the jerks are separate from the mini-seizures I mentioned first, but its a bit blurry in my Dad's case. The doctor's have said he has small seizures and he suffers from the myoclonic jerks and it is quite hard to tell where one ends and the other begins or if they are all the same thing. But know when I say seizures, even though they are related to epilepsy, I don't mean that he falls on the ground and starts fitting like people with full blown epilepsy do. Instead Dad just has seizures that cause his muscles to either go suddenly rigid for a few seconds or collapse for a few seconds, and this causes him to fall. Hits to the head and upper body could also be symptomatic of this, as Dad hardly ever hits anything but his nose and forehead, because the seizure makes him go rigid, so he doesn't bend at the knees or waist as he goes down, but falls flat on his face/head.

    Hope this helps and gives you a few things to investigate further that might help answer your questions.

    Best wishes,
  4. Trying my best

    Trying my best Registered User

    Dec 9, 2008

    My mum (69) is also in the latrer stages and is gradually losing mobility. She hasn't actually had any major falls yet, but I think that is partly because she has 24 hour one-to-one care, so someone is always watching and/or supporting her when she walks. If she is having a 'wobbly moment' (most likely to be at either end of the day when she is tired) we will support her physically. So far, we have been incredibly lucky in that all of her actual falls have occurred while getting out of bed and she has landed safely (if a bit frightenned) on the mattress.

    I do worry so much about what will happen if/when this ceases to be the case, as she virtually no padding on her (apart from around the middle) and has tiny, bird like bones. We have noticed a distrinct deterioration on her physical motor skills over the mast 6 weeks or so (walking much more slowly when she does walk and greatly increased difficulty in sitting down or getting up). UTIs and other infections have been ruled out, so it looks like it is deterioration. :(
  5. Winnie Kjaer

    Winnie Kjaer Account Closed

    Aug 14, 2009
    Hi, It is interestng to read this
    because my husband too has both, but in his case they is a vast difference between the two. My husband strong side (the weak side is totally paralysed)jerks every 2-5 minutes all the time from his right arm and upwards. They have got stronger and stronger over a large period of time, and it really feels like he is giving you a big nudge when I am sitting next to him. His seizures on the other hand are very strong and he is quite ill for quite some time afterwards. They are all stroke related.
    My mother on the other hand deterioated very rapidly, from walking one week, to falling about and then not being able to walk at all within a few weeks, she also had VAD. She never fitted but had loads of small TIA's much milder than my husbands are. She just used to go totally "dead" allover and collapse for a few minute, some times she would be sick when she came around.
    It just shows that every case of dementia is unique.
    But to answer your question, yes it is all part of the deterioation normally speaking.
  6. Jane1

    Jane1 Registered User

    Mar 3, 2007
    update to falls in later stages

    Thank you to you all. As an update after dad's last fall he seemed less responsive by the day and i even questioned brain damage! I was fobbed off but last thursday he was admitted to hospital and put onto antibiotics for a chest infection, put onto a drip and we are told he possibly has a bleed on his brain. His only pleasure was food and he can no longer eat or drink. The hospital have been brilliant, their care wonderful but they can't help dad. His drip has now been removed as it's not a long term measure and we have to now let him go into natures care. I just pray that while he slips away, in his own good time, that he can hear us (they say it's the last thing to go) telling him what a great dad he is and how much we love him. Thank you to you all for your advice and I wish you all well
    Jane x
  7. timthumb

    timthumb Registered User

    Dec 6, 2009
    west sussex
    hi jane i to will pray for you and i do know god answers prayers
    tim x
  8. Amber 5

    Amber 5 Registered User

    Jan 20, 2009
    So sorry to hear this Jane. I hope your Dad is kept as comfortable as possible and that you find the strength to see you through this very sad and difficult time. I'm sure your Dad will feel your love.
    Take care,
    love Gill x
  9. milly123

    milly123 Registered User

    Mar 15, 2009
    jane im sure your dad will know how you love him will be thinking of you milly

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