Relative Trajectories of Gait and Cognitive Decline in Aging

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Abstract

Background: Gait and cognition decline with advancing age, and presage the onset of dementia. Yet, the relative trajectories of gait and cognitive decline in aging are poorly understood - particularly among those with the motoric cognitive risk (MCR) syndrome. This study compared changes in simple and complex gait performance and cognition, as a function of age and MCR. Methods: We examined gait and cognitive functions of 1 095 LonGenity study participants (mean age = 75.4 ± 6.7 years) with up to 12 years of annual follow-up. Participants were of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, free of dementia, ambulatory, and had a 12.2% MCR prevalence at baseline. Gait speed was measured at usual pace walking (single-task walking, STW-speed) and walking while talking (WWT-speed). Eleven neuropsychological test scores were examined separately, and as a global cognition composite. Linear mixed-effects models adjusted for baseline sex, education, parental longevity, cognitive impairment, and global health were used to estimate changes in gait and cognition, as a function of age and MCR. Results: STW-speed, WWT-speed, and cognitive tests performance declined in a nonlinear (accelerating) fashion with age. STW-speed declined faster than WWT-speed and cognitive test scores. People with MCR showed faster rates of decline on figure copy and phonemic fluency. Conclusions: Gait declines at a faster rate than cognition in aging. People with MCR are susceptible to faster decline in visuospatial, executive, and language functions. This study adds important knowledge of trajectories of gait and cognitive decline in aging, and identifies MCR as a risk factor for accelerated cognitive decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1230-1238
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume77
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Keywords

  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Gait decline
  • MCR
  • Relative trajectories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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