How do you get an elderly parent with dementia to use a walker?

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My dad absolutely refuses to use a walker or a cane and if we threaten him or tell him we won't take him out if he doesnt he gets violent. He lives in an apartment by himself because my sister who is his guardian won't put him in a nursing home. I know its just a matter of time before he falls. Does anyone have any suggestions? I threatened him with social services once to get him to use his cane and it worked but now he won't use anything and nothing I say will change his mind. HELP!

Answers 1 to 10 of 14
If it is any consolation, even with a walker or a cane, it is very possible for him to fall. I once looked up the statistics of the number of ER visits that involved a fall WITH a walker ... pretty staggering.

Your dad is at risk of falling. Maybe correctly using a walker would reduce that risk, but it won't eliminate it. It is hard for someone with dementia to remember how to use the walker "correctly" even if they are willing to use it.

Personally, I wonder if it is worth the stress in your relationship to keep fighting this. (Mine is very likely a minority opinion in that regard.)

Will Dad use a medical alert device? Would he remember to use it if he fell?

I'm sorry but I do not believe that elderly persons with dementia can safely live by themselves without a LOT of support and then only for the very early stage.

The solution here is not to make him use a walker -- I don't think that is going to happen -- it is to get him into a safe environment.
Top Answer
Add another minority opinion! What I learned when caring for my mil was that with dementia there is no "learning" going on anymore. Even sitting in a wheelchair there is a risk of falling and the older and more unsteady on their feet, the better the chance of falling. For my mil, we went to a cane first without success, then bought a walker without success....she just could not figure out the simple act of using either one. She couldn't even work the simple up and down remote for her lift chair. But, the first time she took a huge fall? She decided to use the walker and I found her on the floor with a bloodied lip and nose. Her son made the decision to place her in a NH as I was unable to lift her and he was having health issues himself. Since your sister is refusing to place your Dad, then I agree with jeannegibbs that you aren't going to get far with trying to change the situation. Until things do change, perhaps you could look around Dad's and do a little "fall-proofing" making sure there aren't items sitting around that might cause injury if Dad should fall. I'm hoping for everyone considered that sister will make other arrangements soon.
I agree with all the above. That is the very essence of dementia; losing comprehnsion of what has always been second-nature. Your sister needs to have a chat with some professionals.
Yep- even simple/logical things don't sink in with dementia. Father in NH would have call button clipped to his shirt and couldn't remember how to use it. When he needed help he would shout "ma'am" until someone came. Good luck with your situation but there is only so much you can do.
Good question - How can you get someone with dementia to do or remember anything? Not well. My mom is showing signs of cognitive decline. Don't know if it's exactly dementia -- yet. Her PT is working with her b/c mom has Stage 4 PD and the PT involves "retraining the brain". Kinda hard to do when the patient sometimes forgets what day, month it is or thinks things that haven't happened have and those that have haven't. It's a nice "theory" about just 'focusing and retraining your brain" but not necessarily practical in real time.
kkinsel, my mother-in-law also has dementia but she uses the very simple kind of walker because her insurance wouldn't pay for the kind with brakes, since she would forget to use them. But even with the walker, she has fallen and broken BOTH hips, so there's no guarantee that a walker is going to stop falling. If it's your father's pride that is keeping him from using a walker tho, then I'd certainly address that. If it IS pride, then why would he wear glasses or a hearing aid, doesn't that show that a person is getting older? What is so different about the walker?
My mom,82, with or without her cane is still unsteady at times on her feet and there are times when she will just carry the cane on her arm instead of using it....as was said before...if they can't remember how to use it, a cane or walker really won't do them much good. Fortunately, my mom lives with me and I take care of her 24/7 so one of my jobs is to watch her, try to keep things out of her pathways, and then just pray that she still doesn't fall and break something. Whether or not it really helps I also give my mom calcium supplements and a supplement called "Strontium" to help her retain bone mass so in the event of a fall perhaps it won't be quite as debilitating. My sister and I take this and have for a couple of years...my sister had a bone density done and she actually had bone mass improvement! It will be interesting to see what happens next time mom goes for a bone density check-up as she did have mild osteoporosis. I will keep you posted! Hang in there, no one said it would be easy, but it can be rewarding.
Accept the fact that ur mom will not learn (requires thought,) but she will do ! Habits die hard. So make using the walker a HABIT. u may have to be a PITA, but insist that she use the walker. in time, it will become a habit. walkers may not always protect her, but they do help. also, keep the walker simple, wheels in the front, skids in the back. no rugs nor obstructions along her routes. and no distractions while she is underway, stopping and/or changing direction result invariably in unsteadiness. and finally, u will still find her moving about without the aid of the walker, but keep up the "nagging," it helps reinforce the habit.
re above response - correct the gender
I was hoping for some type of alarm or something but it sounds like you need to do what we have done, get companion care. It is less expensive than a nursing home and you can just have it the hours he is up and around. They will remind him to use the walker, help with meals, cleaning, laundry, and give companionship. It has been great.

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