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Study claims poor balance and weak grip are associated with increased risk of late-age dementia.

While the risk of dementia increases as you get older, particularly if you reach your 90s, being able to predict whether you will develop it when you get to this age is still not that easy.

However, research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has found that testing physical health could be a good indicator of the likelihood of going on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

Researchers at the University of California analysed 176 men and 402 women who were participating in The 90+ Study, an ongoing population-based study of ageing and dementia. Of these study participants, 54% were cognitively normal, 46% had mild cognitive impairment, but none had dementia.

The researchers tested different physical abilities through a 4-minute timed walk, five chair stands, balancing for 10 seconds and grip strength exercises, as well as measuring cognitive health through tests designed to measure memory, orientation, language, calculation, abstract thinking and judgement.

At the end of the two years of study, 36.7% of the participants had developed dementia, and interestingly, researchers found this also correlated with the physical tests, with those with the disease also showing the most decline in their physical abilities.

Good standing balance was associated most strongly with cognitive health, followed by the 4-minute walk and grip strength. What’s more, poor physical performance was detected two to three years before dementia symptoms appeared.

The study is useful because it could encourage doctors to use tests for strength and balance to screen older patients for dementia, particularly as they’re simple and accessible.

Discover other early signs and symptoms of dementia here.

Source: Neurology Now