This simple test predicts dementia risk

I'm sure you've heard the old joke about not being able to chew gum and walk at the same time.

Well, it looks like there might be a little something to that, after all!

New research reveals that one of the earliest warning signs of cognitive decline and dementia could very well be your ability to do things as you walk.

Don't break out the bubble gum just yet; it's a little more complicated than that.

Instead of chewing and walking, the real key might be in THINKING and walking.

If you struggle to handle complicated cognitive problems or thought puzzles as you go for a stroll, you could be at risk -- especially if you're among the 16 million older Americans with mild cognitive impairment.

That's a condition in which the irritating but mostly harmless "brain burps" that come with age get a little bit worse.

It many cases, it doesn't lead to dementia. Sometimes, it even improves.

But it can also progress to Alzheimer's disease -- and spotting WHICH cases of MCI will turn into one full-blown dementia could be the key to getting folks the help they need to STOP the disease before it truly kicks in.

And, as it turns out, a simple walking-and-thinking test could do just that.

In the new study, researchers gave 112 older folks with MCI walking tests to check their speeds. Then, they got the same test all over again along with some cognitive puzzles that measure abilities such as attention span, concentration, memory, and more.

Some folks could pull it off without missing a step.

But others slowed down as they puzzled over the quiz -- and, six years later, THOSE were the folks more likely to develop dementia.

The slower they moved, the bigger the risk, with walking speeds that dropped by 20 percent doubling and in some cases tripling the risk of dementia, according to the study.

Don't be too alarmed if your own pace slows down when you're deep in thought.

First, it's not a guarantee that this will lead to dementia, just a risk factor.

And second, if you ARE worried, consider this your golden opportunity to take action... because once you know you're at risk for dementia, you can take steps to slow down or even prevent this condition altogether.

The means boosting your intake of brain-friendly nutrients including B vitamins as well as the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.

I'll have more on that coming up tomorrow.

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