Dementia is a syndrome seen most commonly in older people and characterized by a decline in cognitive performance which impacts on the person's ability to function. There are approximately 47 million people worldwide with dementia and there are 10 million new cases every year. It is a major cause of disability and dependence and impacts on the physical, psychologic, and social well-being of families and carers. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. Gait and balance impairments are common in people with dementia and contribute to the significantly elevated risk of falls. Older people with dementia are at increased risk of injury, institutionalization, hospitalization, morbidity, and death after a fall. There is preliminary evidence, predominantly from relatively small studies, that falls and disability can be prevented in this population. However, more good-quality research is needed, both to provide some certainty around the existing evidence base as well as to explore alternate approaches to prevention, including combined cognitive-motor training and cognitive pharmacotherapy.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; accidental falls; cognitive impairment; dementia; exercise; fall prevention; gait; postural control; risk factors.
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