Gait means pattern of steps, walk, stride, pace. It requires co-ordination of the different systems within the body. Gait is indicative of cognitive and body control.
Gait and balance are common problems among the elderly. Dysfunctional gait compromises independence and contributes to risk of falls and injury, affecting the quality of life.With advancing age gait disorder begins to manifest, there is slowness of speed, disinclination to walk, fear of falls, pain, trauma & mental disbalance.
Gait control is important for Elderly
a) To facilitate living relatively pain free, keeping mobility intact and ensuring that risks of bodily injury are reduced or perhaps even negated.
b) The gait of an elderly person can be indicative of the onset of an underlying disease of muscle wasting / arthritis / osteoarthritis /cognitive / nerve disorder.
c) It might also be the result of any of the above and or other reasons like depression, a mild fracture, poor vision, early stages of dementia or any other serious disease which needs attention.
Indicators can be mild or serious but a detailed medical examination might help in treatment and medical assistance. It can be greatly beneficial to the care givers catering to the needs of these elderly patients.
5 questions you should ask the elderly:-
- Have you fallen in the past month / in 6 months / in the past year?
- Any time when you almost fell, but managed to save yourself?
- Are you afraid of falling, especially during the winter months?
- Are you unsteady while walking or standing?
- Do you exercise regularly; has this decreased in any way?
If the answers are yes to one or more questions a red alert needs to be given out.
It might require modifications in home arrangements:-
- Good lighting especially at night
- Stairways need to have railings
- Bathrooms should have anti-skid floors, railings both near toilets and bathing areas, to allow safety from slipping.
- Floors should be clear of rugs and cushions, and clutter to prevent tripping
- Cupboards and storage areas should not be too high for the elderly to reach.
It is essential to note any changes in gait. Aging needs to be respected One should not ignore the signs when the body is calling for help .The fact is a change in Gait can be a warning sign of impending doom and gloom. No sign is too small to look away! It certainly needs to be looked AT.
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