Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is key to planning for and managing the disease. More treatment options are available when the diagnosis is made sooner, and certainly more estate planning options remain open with earlier diagnosis. Of course, Alzheimer’s and dementia are difficult to diagnose, but recent studies suggest that changes in a person’s walking gait can provide striking early evidence of cognitive impairment. Cognitive disease symptoms steadily destroy our ability to plan for the disease itself. This troubling fact carries over to the legal issues of “mental capacity” when it comes time to plan your estate. So, what are the outward warning signs of present or future issues? Some new studies have come to light about walking and dementia. The New York Times recently addressed this connection in an article titled “Footprints to Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Are Seen in Gait.” According to recent findings, a person’s gait – the way he or she walks – can be an early indicator of oncoming impairment for some. It seems the more difficulty a person has walking, the more difficult it is to process certain information. In fact, the results of testing were even more dramatic when persons where required to engage in various mental exercises while walking. Although neither conclusive nor confirmed, there seems to be a link between exercise and cognitive impairments.
Reference: The New York Times (July 16, 2012) “Footprints to Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer’s Are Seen in Gait”