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I received a note from a caregiver whose husband has dementia and has balance issues. Even after his diagnosis of vascular dementia, my loved one did not have balance issues. His neuropsychologist cautioned me to keep him off horses (which was a real challenge), ladders, and anything else which might lead to head injury.

My husband’s balance issues developed after his stroke, which occurred three years after the dementia diagnosis. He didn’t suffer from any paralysis. It just became obvious that his gait had changed. He walked more slowly and planted each foot firmly as he plodded on. He also began using the handrails on stairs.

I have read, however, that balance issues may be a warning sign of onset dementia. So, it’s possible that balance problems lead to dementia, and vice-versa.

For the caregiver, this means you will need to look around your living quarters to make sure there aren’t tripping booby traps. Throw rugs, for example, are a major no-no. You can find lots of “safe house” hints on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website. A Google search for “preventing trips and falls at home” will also give you lots of info.