Could one's walking speed have an effect on whether or not they will need Alzheimer's care in the future? Some scientists say yes.
New research published in the journal Neurology examined people's walking speeds and linked them to mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The study used 93 participants who were 70 or older and lived alone. Of these participants, 54 had no cognitive impairment, 31 had non-memory related MCI and eight had memory-related MCI.
Researchers gave participants memory and thinking tests and monitored their walking speeds over a three-year period. The study's authors categorized people into three groups - slow, moderate and fast. The findings indicate that people with non-memory related MCI were nine times more likely to be slow walkers than moderate or fast.
"Further studies need to be done using larger groups of participants to determine whether walking speed and its fluctuations could be a predictor of future memory and thinking problems in the elderly," said study author Dr. Hiroko Dodge. "If we can detect dementia at its earliest phases, then we can work to maintain people's independence, provide treatments and ultimately develop ways to prevent the disease from developing. Our in-home monitoring approach has a lot of potential to be used for sustaining independence of the elderly."
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