Dad forgot how to stand - is this a normal progression of dementia?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My Dad is 89 and lives in a nursing facility. He has dementia and just stopped standing and walking. He doesn't seem able to understand how to stand. One day he was going to church with a walker and the next day he couldn't stand, even with help. It seems to me that if he gives up standing and walking, he gives up almost all his freedom and dignity. Is this common? Does this sound like a brain connection is no longer being made?

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

Unfortunately, losing the ability to walk even with help is a common consequence of progression of dementia. Your father is not "giving up", he just lost the ability to coordinate function of his muscles to allow standing. You might need to try to maintain his dignity and freedom by using a wheelchair.