Walking disorders are common in the elderly. Sometimes the changes to the person’s walking cannot be explained by neurological causes, such as stroke, or non-neurological causes, such as arthritis.
Changes to walking that are not due to any obvious cause have previously been considered ‘normal’ in older adults. More recently however, research has shown that these changes are often due to changes in the person’s brain.
This form of walking disorder presenting in the elderly is called Frontal Gait Disorder (FGD). Although there’s currently no treatment that can stop FGD from progressing, there are therapies available that can improve the person’s walking.
The typical changes to walking due to FGD include:
- walking with short, shuffling steps with feet wide apart
- arm swing remains normal
- difficulty starting walking as FGD progresses
- feeling unsteady
These changes result in
- difficultly walking at home and in the community
- difficulty with participating in community activities such as shopping, attending social events
- increased falls risk
- loss of function and independence with help needed for daily activities, personal care, home care