What to Know About Apraxia (Inability to Coordinate Movements) in Mild Dementia

Some people with dementia are affected by what's called apraxia, the inability to coordinate movements.

Three common ways apraxia shows itself:

  • Deteriorating handwriting. This red flag is usually easy to see. Or the person may start to avoid writing (for example, a letter correspondent drops the habit).

  • Making more mistakes in a familiar handicraft. An old hand at sewing, knitting, painting, or woodworking may make more errors and clumsy mistakes.

  • Avoiding certain hobbies. Because the person is aware of the increased mistakes, he or she shows less interest in maintaining familiar activities.

What to do: If you see these signs, look for ways to help the person adapt and continue old activities so they're not dropped altogether. For example, instead of writing letters, maybe the person could try typing them. Similarly, someone who loves to knit might try using simpler patterns.

Extra praise and support help, too. Dropping out of favorite activities can raise the risk of depression, so keeping the person engaged is worth the effort if you can manage it.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio