Declines in both memory and gait are linked to dementia among cognitively healthy adults over age 60. Clinicians may want to target this group for prevention and therapeutic interventions, say researchers.

In a meta-analysis involving nearly 8,700 adults from the United States and Europe, participants who experienced a decline in both memory and gait had about six times greater odds of developing dementia compared to adults with no decline, reported Qu Tian, Ph.D., from the National Institute on Aging, and colleagues.

Clinicians can pinpoint this dual decline early on by using routine gait speed assessments and free-recall memory testing in older adults, the study team wrote.

“At this stage, this group should be carefully evaluated for potentially reversible risk factors for dementia,” they said. In addition, “research that focuses on why individuals with dual decline are at such a high risk of developing dementia may lead to new opportunities for prevention,” they concluded.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open.