This “normal” feature of aging may be linked to the risk of dementia
Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) recently studied more than a thousand women around the age of 75 and looked at two measures of speed and strength: grip strength (an important indicator of overall health and longevity) and a measure called “time up and gone, TUG ( in which people measure time as they do get up from the chair, walk a short distance and return to the chair1).
For more than 15 years, scientists have observed these women for declines in speed and strength. They found that women with significant declines in these domains were twice as likely as their counterparts to have late-life dementia (or dementia-related hospitalization or death).
And while this may sound alarming to those who are aging or watching their loved ones slow down with age, it’s important to remember two things: For starters, some decline in strength and speed is normal for anyone in their 70s, especially if it is relatively light. In addition, early-stage studies and results like this can help detect dementia early and encourage preventative therapies that can help prevent cognitive decline.
“Incorporating muscle function tests as part of dementia screening may be useful in identifying high-risk individuals who may then benefit from primary prevention programs aimed at preventing the onset of the disease, such as a healthy diet and a physically active lifestyle.” — the author of the study. This is stated in the statement of Doctor of Philosophy Mark Sim.
Sim adds that grip strength and TUG tests are not currently performed in clinical practice, but both are inexpensive and simple assessments that can be administered as part of dementia screening.