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Poor Performance on Physical Tasks Ups Risk Of Dementia

A new study of individuals over the age of 90 found that those who had difficulty performing a number of physical tasks, including walking and chair stands, had an increased risk of dementia.

The study, published in the Archives of Neurology, asked participants, who had an average age of 94, to complete a variety of tests. The tests included a timed 4-meter walk, a measurement of grip strength, a chair stand test, which is when an individual stands from a sitting position five times, and an evaluation of standing balance. Participants were then scored on a 0 to 4 scale based on performance. For example, if they performed in the top quartile, they were given a score 4; and if they were unable to complete the task, they were given a zero.

For each task, lower physical performance correlated with higher odds of having dementia. This was most pronounced in the walking test. Those that were unable to walk were 30 times more likely to have dementia than those in the top quartile; and for every unit decrease in their score, participants upped their risk of dementia by a factor of 2.1. In the chair test, every unit decrease in participants’ performance increased their risk of dementia 2.1 times, while a unit decrease in the standing balance test increased the risk 1.9 times, and a unit decrease in the grip strength evaluation increased the risk of dementia by a factor of 1.7.
For more information, read about the study: Poor Physical Performance and Dementia in the Oldest Old

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