Your brain and your steppin’ rhythm are connected. How fast you walk, your length of step, and your speed are being studied for early signs of dementia.
“Once considered a normal aspect of the aging process, three recent studies have concluded that a slow or irregular gait could be an early sign of dementia. Data was compiled from 4,000 participants, measuring their pace, rhythm and size of step. The results, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in 2012, indicate that each of these parameters changes when a person develops a neurological disorder.” ~Homecare Assistance
Alzheimer’s patients walked more slowly and with a less regular step pattern as they experienced mental decline. There is a pre-Alzheimer’s condition that involves a disrupted gait, a walk that is different from healthy peers.
Another study analyzing a younger group of subjects found that a person’s step rhythm was correlated to his or her information processing speed. Memory was not linked to any aspect of walking, but the ability to control and regulate behavior varies with stride length.
The purpose for this focus on walking and stride is to assist doctors in detecting symptoms early and help prevent injuries from falls for older adults. All older adults begin to walk differently as they age, so it is important for physicians to understand the underlying causes of these changes. As we are aware earlier of potential warning signs, doctors and patients can work together to avoid problems sooner.
Walking is a healthy form of exercise. So is dancing. There is no age limit to these activities. Just getting up to move around during a day can help with the weight gain and lack of flexibility that comes from just sitting all day, whether it is sitting at your desk at work, or sitting in front of the television.
Now that we can all have our personal hand-held music and earbuds to keep the tunes private, what a great time to go walking and bouncin’ to the oldies. Dancing down the street, walking in the rain, and stomping in the puddles are not just activities for the young, they are also for the young at heart. Be safe, of course, but enjoy putting that rhythm in your step as long as you can.
If you are assisting an older patient with care in home put on some favorite music, take a walk while singing. You can help to make walking an enjoyable pastime.
Jaleh Neshat, Home Care Assistance, Raleigh, NC, where the focus is on The Balanced Care Method™ for home healthcare or care services in North Carolina. Read more how-to information on care in the home on the website.