Changes in the way you walk as you age could signal the onset of dementia, research has revealed.
Doctors believe the early warning could be key to slowing the spread of the condition, which affects more than 55million people worldwide, and preparing sufferers and their family and friends to prepare for the future. One in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia in the UK.
The Mirror reported that research conducted by the University of Minnesota and Monash University, monitored 17,000 older adults over a seven-year period – tracking their walking speeds and their cognitive skills. Those who were declining in both cognition and walking speed where found to be at a higher risk of dementia.
The report of the study, led by Dr Taya Collyer, said: “Association between [brain] domains, such as processing speed and verbal fluency, with gait have been explained by the crossover in the underlying networks or pathology.
“These results highlight the importance of gait in dementia risk assessment. They suggest that dual decline in gait speed and memory measure may be the best combination to assess future decline.”
The NHS says symptoms of dementia tend to worsen over time. In the late stage of dementia, people may not be able to take care of themselves and can even lose their ability to communicate. Common warning signs beside memory loss include problems concentrating, confusion in familiar tasks, struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word, being confused about time and place, and mood changes.
If you’re worried about your memory, or think you may have dementia, it is recommended to book an appointment with your GP.
To help rule out other causes of memory problems, the GP may conduct a physical examination as well as a blood and urine test. You’ll also be asked to do a memory or cognitive test.
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