Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health
Frequent Falls Seem to be Early Warning of
Alzheimer’s, Cognitive Decline for Seniors
Study confirms earlier research showing movement
changes older people precede cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive
July 2, 2013 – Seniors citizens – persons age 65
and older – who tend to fall more often than most may be showing early
signs of Alzheimer’s disease, report researchers at the Alzheimer’s
Disease Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis.
Cognitively normal older adults with evidence of
early brain changes typical of Alzheimer’s disease fell more often than
did their peers without these brain changes, according to a report on
the study reported online in Neurology.
The results of the study, led by Dr. Susan L.
Stark, extend earlier research findings that movement changes precede
cognitive changes in people with very early signs of Alzheimer’s or mild
The investigators studied 125 volunteers age 65 and
older to determine how often they fell over the course of one year. The
participants, mostly white women, recorded their falls in a
calendar-journal they mailed monthly to the researchers.
Participants reported a total of 154 falls, most of
which occurred while walking; the number of falls per person ranged from
0 to 12.
Participants also underwent brain imaging to detect
the protein amyloid in the brain and a lumbar puncture to look for
certain proteins in cerebrospinal fluid—biomarkers associated with
preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.
After adjusting for differences in the ability to
perform everyday activities, the researchers found that participants
with biomarkers indicating greater risk for Alzheimer’s were more likely
to fall, and to fall sooner, compared with those with less biomarker
More research is needed to better understand how
falls may help predict risk for and signal onset of Alzheimer’s disease,
the investigators say.
Reference: Stark SL, et al. Preclinical
Alzheimer’s disease and risk for falls. Neurology, Published online June
26, 2013. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e31829d87aa - See more at:
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