Dementia and Alzheimer’s

One in six people over the age of 80 in the UK have dementia, a condition that describes different brain disorders which trigger a loss of brain function; Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62% of those diagnosed. Over 850,000 people in the UK have dementia and this figure is set to rise to 1 million by 2025.

Physical effects

Dementia is usually progressive and eventually severe; typical symptoms include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding.  In addition, especially in the later stages, sufferers can often have physical symptoms such as muscle weakness which can lead to problems with movement and posture.  Symptoms can include:

  • Unsteady gait
  • Poor balance
  • Decrease in physical strength and coordination
  • Sight deterioration
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleep pattern and appetite, which can exacerbate weakness

How can chairs help?

These symptoms can all affect a person’s ability to get into, and out of, a chair safely and comfortably.  A rise and recline chair can help the user by aiding them in gently lowering themselves into a seated position rather than suddenly dropping.  It can provide a comfortable, supported position whilst seated – while less supportive furniture may allow slumping and slouching, and the possibility of slipping out of the chair, especially if the user falls asleep which is common due to the disturbed sleep patterns associated with dementia.  A rise and recline chair can also help the user to safely return to standing in a steady and supported manner, reducing the risk of falls.

Clear buttons on a remote control can allow users in the earlier stages of dementia to safely operate the chair on their own, whilst in the later stages a fully mechanised process means that carers can easily operate a chair on the user’s behalf.

As the condition progresses, patients may suffer further loss of physical abilities such as holding up their head; the correct seating can reduce the risk of associated health complications that can arise from poor posture such as breathing difficulties, problems with swallowing or pressure sores caused by sitting in one position for too long. 

Finding the right chair

The progressive nature of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease means that the patient’s needs change over time.  It’s recommended that a seating assessment is carried out so that their needs now, and in the future, can be correctly identified and addressed.  This can be done by an occupational therapist or by seating experts at Stuart Mobility.  There are many adaptations available that can make a chair suitable – such as tilt-in-space to provide pressure relieving support, lateral and head support, lumbar support, elevating foot and leg rests, remote controlled motors… there are many, many options and, if there’s nothing in our standard stock that exactly meets requirements then bespoke chairs can be designed to the user’s exact specification at no extra cost.  There’s no reason not to sit comfortably and safely!

For information and advice on how a chair could help or to arrange a seating assessment, speak to a member of our expert team: https://www.stuartmobility.co.uk/contacts/

Sources: alzheimers.org.uk; dlf.org.uk

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