Is walking in baby steps a sign of severe dementia progression?

Ann in texas asked...

Mom has mid severe dementia, history of TIAs, high bp, etc. Yesterday was walking in shuffling baby steps. Did not seem more confused than normal . She rides stationary bike daily for exercise. Gait was definately different.

Expert Answer

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Dear Ann:

I'm sorry to hear about your challenges with your mom. Your question is excellent, but it's not possible for me to diagnose her condition and provide you with a definitive answer.

My educated guess is that you may be seeing the results of the series of TIAs that your mother has had, and they have finally had a discernible impact on her physical condition.

It's also a possibility that your mom, in addition to her present list of health issues, has also developed Parkinson's disease, although I don't think that's the case because her gait, as you describe it, doesn't sound like the typical Parkinson shuffling gait.

The solution for you is to get your mother to a geriatric neurologist if one is available where you live. She needs a very thorough neurological workup, even she's had one previously. Multiple TIAs often precede a major stroke, and you need to know why your mother is suffering multiple TIAs and is now exhibiting a change in her gait. Such a change may dramatically increase her chances of a fall, and that would be a devastating setback for her and you.

I wish I could offer you more, but a good geriatric neurologist should be able to provide answers to your concerns.

Good luck, I hope you get your answers very quickly.