Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to severe. With mild impairment, people may begin to notice changes in cognitive functions, but still be able to do their everyday activities.
Cognitively impaired older people are at twice the risk of falls compared to cognitively intact, with approximately 60% falling once or more per year. As cognition declines in seniors, even subtly, their balance capabilities change, and strategies to maintain balance while walking or standing require greater conscious effort (executive control). Because conventional mobility aids demand continual executive control, they can be especially dangerous for seniors with mild to substantial cognitive decline.
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Taylor M, E, Lord S, R, Delbaere K, Mikolaizak A, S, Close J, C, T: Physiological Fall Risk Factors in Cognitively Impaired Older People: A One-Year Prospective Study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2012;34:181-189. doi: 10.1159/000343077