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Balance | Doctor's Diary

Even though Alzheimer's disease is mostly a disorder of memory and thinking, it can also interfere with a person's balance . This becomes more common as the dementia progresses. It reflects both problems of motor and balance control (a problem called ataxia) as well as the brain's ability to integrate complex motor sequences (a problem known as apraxia ). People who have impaired balance fall, and falls can be catastrophic for older people, especially if they break a hip.

As impaired balance is usually a late sign in Alzheimer's disease, if I see a person with early dementia whose balance is impaired, I wonder about diseases other than Alzheimer's as the cause of their problems. Balance problems are classically seen when structures at the back of the brain, known as the cerebellum, are involved in the disease, but impaired balance has many causes. It is seen earlier in patients who have dementia with Lewy bodies , dementia in relation to Parkinson's disease , or Parkinson-like disorders (such as multiple system atrophy or corticobasal degeneration ) and with some types of dementia seen in relationship to stroke . Falls can occur in older people as a so-called 'atypical disease presentation' (of which another one is sudden confusion, known as delirium.)

See Also:
Symptom Library > Leisure Activities > Social Interaction/ Withdrawal
Symptom Library > Physical Changes > Sensory Input
Symptom Library > Physical Changes > Mobility
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Agnosia
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Exercise
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Exercise Program
About Dementia > Types of Dementia > Delirium
About Dementia > Types of Dementia > Dementia with Lewy Bodies
About Dementia > Types of Dementia > Parkinson's Disease
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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