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Memory

As we get older, problems with memory loss, confusion and problem solving can become more common which lead to problems completing both everyday tasks and more complex tasks increasing falls risk.

This may just be a gradual, permanent deterioration in your cognitive/ brain function  associated with ageing but can also be associated with temprorary problems such as stress, poor sleep, infection, certain medications, excessive consumption or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.

If your memory or cognitive function issues are minor, you may find that keeping your brain active with puzzles & games or using visual prompts and lists as reminders can help.

If cognitive function further deteriorates, or a diagnosis such as dementia or alzheimers is made, this can result in impaired judgement, reasoning, orientation, coordination or insight which can then result in risk taking behaviours, which may lead to falls. The ability to recognise and interpret sight, sound and touch may also be affected which can lead to communication and movement difficulties.

We can help cognitive impairment by:

  • Keeping distractions and instructions to a minimum
  • Maintaing routine
  • Reducing other falls risk factors, such as trip hazards and poor fluid intake
  • Introducing assistive technology. Gadgets or devices that can help people with memory or cognitive function difficulties to live independently and safely. Local assistive technology services through Olympus, part of Northamptinshire adult social services, can advise and provide these products or multiple devices can be found online.

However introducing new equipment is often not appropriate for those with significant impairment as they are unable to learn a new skill, such as using a new walking aid safely. Increased support, monitoring and observation is a good management option.

If you or your friends & family have noticed a change in your memory or behaviour, it is important that you discuss this with your GP or other health professional. Lots of advise throughout this website advises on reducing falls risk, but specifically local services such as Northamptonshrie carers or dementia connect can help support people looking after individuals with cognitive impairments.

For further information follow the links below:

NHS information on memory loss

NHS information on Dementia

AgeUK Advice on Dementia