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Walking While Talking and Incident Dementia Risk

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry; ePub 2018 Jan 3; Ceïde, et al

Complex walking, as assessed by the walking while talking (WWT) task, is a simple and pragmatic tool for assessing risk of developing dementia, especially for vascular dementia (VaD) in older adults, according to a recent study. Researchers prospectively studied the associations of WWT performance at baseline with risk of developing incident dementia in 1,156 older adults (mean age 78.28±5.27, 60.7% female) enrolled in the Einstein Aging Study. They found:

  • Over a median follow-up of 1.90 years, 85 participants developed incident dementia (53 Alzheimer dementia [AD] and 26 VaD).
  • 3 gait domains were derived using principal component analysis.
  • Only variability, which loaded heavily for swing time standard deviation (SD) and step time SD, was associated with an increased risk of incident dementia per 1-point increase and VaD after adjusting for demographics, disease burden, mental status and normal walking velocity.
  • Amongst 8 individual gait variables, only swing time variability was associated with increased risk for both incident dementia and VaD.
  • Variability and swing time SD were not significantly associated with risk of incident AD.

Ceïde ME, Ayers EI, Lipton R, Verghese J. Walking while talking and risk of incident dementia. [Published online ahead of print January 3, 2018]. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2017.12.009.

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