(HealthDay News) – Poor physical performance is associated with increased odds of dementia among the oldest old.

Szofia S. Bullain, MD, from the University of California in Irvine, and colleagues examined the cross-sectional association between physical performance and dementia in 629 participants from The 90+ Study of aging and dementia. The mean age of the participants was 94 years, and 72.5% were women. Physical performance was measured with the 4m timed walk, five chair stands, standing balance, and grip strength.

The researchers found that poor physical performance in all measures correlated significantly with elevated odds of dementia. For every unit decrease in physical performance score, the odds ratios for dementia were 2.1 for the 4m timed walk; 2.1 for chair stands; 1.9 for standing balance; and 1.7 for grip strength.

“In summary, similar to younger elderly populations, our study found that poor physical performance is associated with increased odds of dementia in the oldest old,” the authors write. “The establishment of this association may serve as a major stepping stone to further investigate whether poor physical performance is in the causal pathway and a potentially modifiable risk factor for late-age dementia.”

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