The rate at which older adults walk could be a possible indicator of dementia, a study has found. 

Researchers from the United Kingdom noted that because there is currently no cure for dementia, risk factors must be well-identified to lower the risk.

Dementia is a syndrome wherein there is deterioration in the areas of memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. It affects 50 million people in the world, and 10 million cases are added yearly.

It is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The signs and symptoms of dementia include forgetfulness, losing track of time and becoming lost, even in a familiar location.

In the study, the researchers included 3,932 participants, aged 60 and above, who are from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

The researchers collected information on the participants from 2002 to 2015, where they recorded their walking speeds, and compared those who developed dementia and those who did not.

Those with slower speeds had higher risk of developing dementia, while those with faster speeds had lower risks, the researchers found.

“In this community-dwelling sample of English adults, those with slower walking speeds and a greater decline in speed over time were at greater risk of developing dementia independent of changes in cognition,” according to the group of researchers, led by Ruth A Hackett, PhD.

However, they did note that changes in the older adult’s walking speed and ability to think and make decisions do not strictly work together to affect the risk of developing dementia. MIMS