Study of patients ages 90 and older links poor physical performance, increased odds of dementia

October 22, 2012

Poor physical performance on activities including walking was associated with increased odds of dementia in a study of individuals 90 years and older, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Neurology.

Individuals 90 years and older are a unique segment of society that has not been well studied. Previous studies have suggested a relationship between poor and in the younger elderly populations, according to the study background.

The study conducted by Szofia S. Bullain, M.D., and colleagues from the University of California, Irvine, involved 629 participants from the 90+ Study on aging and performed at the university from January 2003 through November 2009. The average age of participants was 94 years, and most (72.5 percent) were women.

"Our cross-sectional study found a strong dose-dependent association between poor physical performance and dementia in the oldest old, with higher odds of dementia associated with poorer physical performance," the authors note. "The results reveal that even modest declines in physical performance are associated with increased odds of dementia. The strongest association is seen with gait slowing, followed by five chair stands, and standing balance."

The odds ratios for every unit decrease in a physical performance score were 2.1 for a four-meter walk, 2.1 for chair stands, 1.9 for standing balance and 1.7 for grip strength, according to the study results.

Participants who were unable to walk (score of 0) "were almost 30 times more likely to have dementia than people with the fastest walking time," the study results indicate. Even minimal slowing in the (less than or equal to 1.5 seconds, from score 4 to score 3) was associated with four times greater odds of dementia, according to the results.

"In summary, similar to younger elderly populations, our study found that poor physical performance is associated with increased odds of dementia in the oldest old. The establishment of this association may serve as a major stepping stone to further investigate whether poor physical performance is in the causal pathway and a potentially modifiable risk factor for late-age dementia," the authors conclude.

Explore further: How fast you walk and your grip in middle age may predict dementia, stroke risk

More information: Arch Neurol. Published online October 22, 2012. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.583

Related Stories

How fast you walk and your grip in middle age may predict dementia, stroke risk

February 15, 2012
Simple tests such as walking speed and hand grip strength may help doctors determine how likely it is a middle-aged person will develop dementia or stroke. That's according to new research that was released today and will ...

Think you're in poor health? It could increase your odds of dementia

October 5, 2011
People who rate their health as poor or fair appear to be significantly more likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a study published in the October 5, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

Dementia, mild cognitive impairment common in 'oldest old' women

May 9, 2011
Mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and their subtypes are common in the "oldest old" women, which includes those 85 years of age and older, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Neurology.

A lifetime of physical activity yields measurable benefits as we age

August 25, 2011
The benefits of physical activity accumulate across a lifetime, according to a new study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers in England and Australia examined the associations ...

Recommended for you

Brain activity buffers against worsening anxiety

November 17, 2017
Boosting activity in brain areas related to thinking and problem-solving may also buffer against worsening anxiety, suggests a new study by Duke University researchers.

Investigating patterns of degeneration in Alzheimer's disease

November 17, 2017
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is known to cause memory loss and cognitive decline, but other functions of the brain can remain intact. The reasons cells in some brain regions degenerate while others are protected is largely unknown. ...

Study may point to new treatment approach for ASD

November 17, 2017
Using sophisticated genome mining and gene manipulation techniques, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have solved a mystery that could lead to a new treatment approach for autism spectrum disorder ...

Neuroscientists find chronic stress skews decisions toward higher-risk options

November 16, 2017
Making decisions is not always easy, especially when choosing between two options that have both positive and negative elements, such as deciding between a job with a high salary but long hours, and a lower-paying job that ...

Paraplegic rats walk and regain feeling after stem cell treatment

November 16, 2017
Engineered tissue containing human stem cells has allowed paraplegic rats to walk independently and regain sensory perception. The implanted rats also show some degree of healing in their spinal cords. The research, published ...

Brain implant tested in human patients found to improve memory recall

November 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with the University of Southern California and the Wake Forest School of Medicine has conducted experiments involving implanting electrodes into the brains of human volunteers to see ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.