Association of Dual Decline in Memory and Gait Speed with Risk for Dementia among Adults Older Than 60 Years: A Multicohort Individual-Level Meta-analysis

Qu Tian, Susan M. Resnick, Michelle M. Mielke, Kristine Yaffe, Lenore J. Launer, Palmi V. Jonsson, Giulia Grande, Anna Karin Welmer, Erika J. Laukka, Stefania Bandinelli, Antonio Cherubini, Caterina Rosano, Stephen B. Kritchevsky, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Stephanie A. Studenski, Luigi Ferrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Importance: Dual decline in both memory and gait speed may characterize a group of older individuals at high risk for future dementia. Objective: To assess the risk of dementia in older persons who experience parallel declines in memory and gait speed compared with those who experience no decline or decline in either memory or gait speed only. Design, Setting, and Participants: A multicohort meta-analysis was performed of 6 prospective cohort studies conducted between 1997 and 2018 in the United States and Europe. Participants were 60 years or older, had an initial gait speed of more than 0.6 m/s (ie, free of overt dismobility), with repeated measures of memory and gait speed before dementia diagnosis during a mean follow-up of 6.6 to 14.5 years. Within each study, participants were divided into 4 groups: memory decline only, gait speed decline only, dual decline, or no decline (hereafter referred to as usual agers). Gait decline was defined as a loss of 0.05 m/s or more per year; memory decline was defined as being in the cohort-specific lowest tertile of annualized change. Main Outcomes and Measures: Risk of incident dementia according to group membership was examined by Cox proportional hazards regression with usual agers as the reference, adjusted for baseline age, sex, race/ethnicity, educational level, study site, and baseline gait speed and memory. Results: Across the 6 studies of 8699 participants, mean age ranged between 70 and 74 years and mean gait speed ranged between 1.05 and 1.26 m/s. Incident dementia ranged from 5 to 21 per 1000 person-years. Compared with usual agers, participants with only memory decline had 2.2 to 4.6 times higher risk for developing dementia (pooled hazard ratio, 3.45 [95% CI, 2.45-4.86]). Those with only gait decline had 2.1 to 3.6 times higher risk (pooled hazard ratio, 2.24 [95% CI, 1.62-3.09]). Those with dual decline had 5.2 to 11.7 times the risk (pooled hazard ratio, 6.28 [95% CI, 4.56-8.64]). Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, dual decline of memory and gait speed was associated with increased risk of developing dementia among older individuals, which might be a potentially valuable group for preventive or therapeutic interventions. Why dual decline is associated with an elevated risk of dementia and whether these individuals progress to dementia through specific mechanisms should be investigated by future studies..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1921636
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 21 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of Dual Decline in Memory and Gait Speed with Risk for Dementia among Adults Older Than 60 Years: A Multicohort Individual-Level Meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this