Other times she kind of jumbles her feet or shuffles and I ask her why she is doing that she says "I don't know...". This again means, she is really not able to control this herself. Obviously, I want her to keep her mobility as LONG as possible as this is a big key to maintaining some kind of independence. One night recently I had her go straight to bed a bit early because I was afraid she was going to fall. Her mind and feet seemed particularly unable to work together. In fact, when she does walk well, it often seems to require lots of concentration -- you can just tell she is trying really hard. I wish it was more automatic, but it does not seem to be. There are good days and bad days.
As I have said before, I am constantly Googling things about this confusing disease to see what can be expected. Changes in "gait" and walking with a shuffle are common as the disease progresses. Walking itself is said to be good for preventing and slowing the progression of Alzheimer's Disease.
Falls among people with Alzheimer's disease are common and lead to fractures, acute hospitalizations and increased rate of institutionalization. Poor balance and gait abnormalities, commonly associated with Alzheimer's, are risk factors for falls. Improving balance and gait abnormalities through exercise is critical to prevent falls. Walking is the most commonly recommended exercise program, however, it is difficult to engage people with Alzheimer's in long-term exercise programs due to lack of motivation, poor engagement and external factors, such as the cost of physical therapy.*
It would be tough to do any long distance walking, but for now we are trying to make sure she gets some walking in, as slow as it may be. Recently, my brother took her to the American Veterans Traveling Tribute memorial wall replica which was displayed near us. That was a decent amount of walking for her. It is hard to find the balance (pardon the pun) between not wanting her to fall and giving her the confidence and encouragement to continue to walk on her own.
For now though, we're going to keep...on...walking!