Is there a role for gait aids to improve stability and reduce falls risk for older people with dementia?
Balance impairment and falls are common among people living with dementia. Walking aids are frequently used to improve stability and reduce risk of falls for older people. However, there is often confusion about walking aid use by older people living with dementia, due to concerns about safety and their ability to learn this new skill. This research aims to fill the evidence gap to improve practice and guide decision-making by hospital and community care staff, and informal caregivers regarding walking aid use for people living with dementia who have balance impairments. A sequential investigation will be undertaken: 1) a survey to identify practice and rationales of hospital and community care staff and informal caregivers about walking aid use for older people living with dementia; 2) developing an algorithm to facilitate decision-making in hospitals and community; and 3) piloting a walking aid training program for people living with dementia to validate the algorithm. It is expected that the algorithm can guide practice and decision-making and identify people living with dementia who can achieve safe and effective walking aid use, which in turn may improve stability and reduce fall risks in older people living with dementia.