The risk of falling appears to have an outsized effect on the eight-year prognosis for dementia in cognitively healthy older adults, according to new findings.

Investigators analyzed data gathered between 2011 and 2019 from the National Health and Aging Trends Study. Participants were community-dwelling adults aged 65 or more years without cognitive impairment. They were classified into three fall risk groups using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s STEADI (Stop Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) algorithm.

There were more than 7,000 participants, with a median age of 75 to 80 years. After adjustment, results showed that the risk of developing cognitive impairment was notably higher among those in the moderate fall-risk category, and nearly double in the high falls-risk category when compared with participants in the low falls-risk category.

“Older, cognitively intact adults at high fall risk had nearly twice the risk of cognitive decline at eight year follow‐up,” the authors concluded.

Full findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.