A new study analyzed the association between four different measures of physical performance and the risk of dementia for great-grandparents. The researchers, from the University of California at Irvine, observed a strong link between dementia risk and poor performance on the standing balance test. Additionally, a small association was also found between developing dementia and performing poorly on the four-meter walk and handgrip tests.
The study included nearly 600 adults, aged 90 and older. In addition to the physical performance tests, the participants underwent physical and neurological exams and cognitive tests. During a follow-up period of two-and-a-half years, 40 percent developed dementia. Since balance and walking require complex brain activity, testing these functions may help predict who might be most at risk for developing dementia.
Source: Bullain S, Corrada M, Perry S, Kawas C. Sound Body Sound Mind? Physical Performance and the Risk of Dementia in the Oldest-Old: The 90+ Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2016; 64 (7): 1408.