New research suggests how a person walks may predict whether they'll develop Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disease that affects 5.4 million Americans and currently has no cure.
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The study said trouble walking is not the inevitable consequence of aging: "They are, however, common and relevant problems among older adults. Research shows that people with walking difficulties not only have an increased risk of falling, but may also have an increased risk developing memory disorders and dementia."
"Mobility impairments are often associated with dementia, and some gait changes may even appear before cognitive decline can be detected by traditional testing methods," study author Dr. Stephanie A. Bridenbaugh, a researcher at the Basel Mobility Center in Switzerland, said in a press release. "When problems emerge, this may provide early detection of fall risk and the earliest stages of cognitive impairment in older adults."