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Mom has a hard time putting one foot in front of the other. She walks so slow and has no sense of balance. She refuses to use her cane or walker. When we take her out I have to hang on to her to keep her steady. She does live alone. She has furniture in her house positioned where she can hang on to something every step of the way. Mom is 89. I worry about her falling. What typically causes this? She thinks it will get better.

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my father refused to use his cane. didn't want to be seen with it. As a result, he kept falling and hurting himself. Diagnosis? he had Parkinson's. But because he kept falling, he hurt his back as a result. So not only did he have the Parkinson's, which is way more than trembling, we learned, but he was in constant pain, which made moving even more difficult.
Take my word for it, I know it's hard, but be stern, and yell if you have to! I know as they get older, they get more stubborn. I wish my dad weren't so stubborn and vain...!
I wish my dad was still here so I could yell at him!
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My mom also had that. You can't tell without an evaluation whether the weakness is in the leg muscles, hips, ankles, feet or a combination, or what the causes are. My mom has peripheral neuropathy from diabetes. She also has atrophy in her leg and hip muscles from lack of exercise. She also had undiagnosed Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, one of the main symptoms of which is gait and balance disturbance. (Other symptoms are cognitive issues and urinary incontinence). My mom had all of these, so my sister and I read up and pushed for a neuro consult, which showed the problem in her brain on a cat scan. She was evaluated for surgery and had a shunt put in her head that drains excess spinal fluid into the abdomen. She's not great now but she's steadier on her feet (with the walker) and overall more motivated to get up and move. She says she feels much better. She had the surgery at 82.

Push for a medical evaluation. So many things could be causing this and at least some of them are treatable if not correctable.
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As you have read, there could be many reasons including a vitamin D deficiency. Get blood work done and check into physical therapy to help strengthen their thigh muscules.
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Muscles do atrophy with dis-use, so even having to walk around their house is good, can they also use a stationary bicycle? Csn they get PT eval and have a plan to strengthen, rebuild sense of balance? I hope there can be improvement.
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aferrino, just remember that your Mom is 89 years old. I remember back only six years ago when my parents [who are now in their mid-90's] use to walk two miles a day, every day and it was hard to keep up with them.

Fast forward to now, Dad's only walking is now just down the driveway to get the mail... thank goodness he really like his rolling walker [seat plus hand brake], it has been a great help for him. He had a regular walker with just front wheels but he found it difficult to use. My Mom uses a cane when outside but does *furniture/wall walking* when indoors.

I suggest your Mom see her primary doctor to rule out anything serious other than normal aging decline.
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It won't get better. Go over her medical history with her MD. In our case, mom had multiple small strokes that affected balance, and heart failure that made her legs tire easily. There are many possible causes.
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I would push getting a diagnosis immediately. Sometimes a stroke can cause that. My cousin, who has dementia, lost the strength in her legs rather quickly. She suffered a number of falls, but the doctors didn't think the falls caused it. We believe it's the dementia that is causing her leg weakness. (She's also lost the ability to put on gloves or roll the wheels of her wheelchair. We aren't certain.

But, if you mom doesn't have dementia, I would be very anxious to see what's causing it. I'm not sure how to insist she use a walker, but if she falls and breaks a hip or fractures her spine, it's very slow to heal. I would point that out to her.
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It could be she's just weak from not using her legs enough...it could be peripheral neuropathy from diabetes or other medical conditions. Or it could be something entirely different like Parkinsons. My dad got weaker and weaker because he had undiagnosed lung cancer that was wearing him down.

She's FOOLISH if she's not using a cane or walker. It's a sure recipe for a fall and a stay in the hospital, rehab, or nursing home. If this is a new condition, get her to the doctor. Physical therapy would probably strengthen her legs, because they'd work on exercises to build up her leg muscles, depending on what her diagnosis is.

Why does she think it will get better? What is her reasoning?
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What are her medical diagnoses? When was the last time she was examined by a physician?
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