Older adults with slower walking speeds seem to have a greater risk of dementia, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The researchers examined information collected from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. Using information collected between 2002 and 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.
They discovered that of the almost 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. People who had a poorer ability to think and make decisions when they entered the study – and those whose cognitive abilities declined more quickly during the study – were also more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
The researchers concluded that older adults 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 researchers 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.