Older adults who have slower walking speeds may have increased risk for dementia

March 23, 2018, American Geriatrics Society
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

As of 2015, nearly 47 million people around the world had dementia, a memory problem significant enough to affect your ability to carry out your usual tasks. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but other forms exist, too.

Because there's currently no cure for , it's important to know about the risk factors that may lead to developing it. For example, researchers have learned that older with slower walking speeds seem to have a greater risk of dementia than those with faster walking speeds. Recently, researchers from the United Kingdom teamed up to learn more about changes in walking , changes in the ability to think and make decisions, and dementia. They published their study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers examined information collected from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. The study included adults aged 60 and older who lived in England. In their study, the researchers used information collected from 2002 to 2015. They assessed participants' walking speed on two occasions in 2002-2003 and in 2004-2005, and whether or not the participants developed dementia after the tests from 2006-2015. Then, they compared the people who had developed dementia with those who had not.

Researchers discovered that of the nearly 4,000 older adults they studied, those with a slower walking speed had a greater risk of developing dementia. And people who experienced a faster decline in walking speed over a two-year period were also at higher risk for dementia. People who had a poorer ability to think and make decisions when they entered the study—and those whose cognitive (thinking) abilities declined more quickly during the study—were also more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

The researchers concluded that with slower walking speeds, and those who experienced a greater decline in their walking speed over time, were at increased risk for dementia. But, the noted, changes in walking speed and changes in an older adult's ability to think and make decisions do not necessarily work together to affect the risk of developing dementia.

Explore further: Dementia increases the risk of 30-day readmission to the hospital after discharge

More information: Ruth A. Hackett et al, Walking Speed, Cognitive Function, and Dementia Risk in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2018). DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15312

Related Stories

Dementia increases the risk of 30-day readmission to the hospital after discharge

February 23, 2018
About 25 percent of older adults admitted to hospitals have dementia and are at increased risk for serious problems like in-hospital falls and delirium (the medical term for an abrupt, rapid change in mental function). As ...

For adults younger than 78, risk for heart disease linked to risk for problems walking

November 20, 2017
Problems with balance, walking speed, and muscle strength become more common as we age, and can lead to disability. In fact, studies show that for older adults, having a slower walking speed can help predict chronic illness, ...

Taking proton pump inhibitors not linked to higher dementia risk

November 21, 2017
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medicines commonly prescribed to treat acid-related digestive problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD). As of 2011, up to 1 in 5 older adults reported using a PPI. Although ...

Positive attitudes about aging reduce risk of dementia in older adults

February 7, 2018
Research has shown that older persons who have acquired positive beliefs about old age from their surrounding culture are less likely to develop dementia. This protective effect was found for all participants, as well as ...

Diabetes, heart disease, smoking increase risk of death for older adults with dementia

January 27, 2016
Dementia (a decline in memory and other mental abilities) is a serious condition, and its prognosis (the likely course of the disease) is marked by progressive loss of cognitive function and complications such as infections ...

Among the oldest adults, poor balance may signal higher risk for dementia

July 25, 2016
The number of people living well into their 90s is projected to quadruple by 2050. By mid-century, nearly 9 million people will be 90-years-old or older. In a first-of-its-kind study published in the Journal of the American ...

Recommended for you

Does diabetes damage brain health?

December 14, 2018
(HealthDay)—Diabetes has been tied to a number of complications such as kidney disease, but new research has found that older people with type 2 diabetes can also have more difficulties with thinking and memory.

Amyloid pathology transmission in lab mice and historic medical treatments

December 13, 2018
A UCL-led study has confirmed that some vials of a hormone used in discontinued medical treatments contained seeds of a protein implicated in Alzheimer's disease, and are able to seed amyloid pathology in mice.

Study links slowed brainwaves to early signs of dementia

December 13, 2018
To turn back the clock on Alzheimer's disease, many researchers are seeking ways to effectively diagnose the neurodegenerative disorder earlier.

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

December 11, 2018
Scientists who recently identified the molecular start of Alzheimer's disease have used that finding to determine that it should be possible to forecast which type of dementia will develop over time—a form of personalized ...

Researchers classify Alzheimer's patients in six subgroups

December 5, 2018
Researchers studying Alzheimer's disease have created an approach to classify patients with Alzheimer's disease, a finding that may open the door for personalized treatments.

Neuroscientists pinpoint genes tied to dementia

December 3, 2018
A UCLA-led research team has identified genetic processes involved in the neurodegeneration that occurs in dementia—an important step on the path toward developing therapies that could slow or halt the course of the disease. ...

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.