According to a new study, thinning bones might indicate memory loss as you get older. This article looks at the science involved and how you can stay prepared.
What Are the Findings?
According to a study of more than 3,600 older adults, patients with relatively low bone density were at risk of being diagnosed within the next decade. Additionally, one-third of participants with the lowest bone mass at the hip have a double risk of dementia. This is as opposed to the third with the strongest hip bones.
According to a March 22 publication in the Journal Neurology, the findings don’t mean thinner bones result in dementia. Instead, they suspect the declining bone mass is part of the early dementia process. This occurs before issues with memory and thinking skills become obvious.
What Does this Mean for Patient Healthcare?
According to senior researcher Dr. Muhammad Arfan Ikram, doctors must pay attention to bone health immediately after older adults are diagnosed with dementia. He also said that one of the main reasons patients with dementia end up in nursing homes is falls and poor mobility. Dr. Ikram said it could be helpful in patients with early-stage dementia to monitor their bone health.
Heather Synder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, said this connection had been made before. She also said it is unclear why bone and brain health are connected. However, Heather said lack of physical activity and poor nutrition could be part of the story. She also said both could contribute to bone loss and cognitive decline. This could result in dementia.
Conversely, patients with cognitive decline become less active or change their eating habits. This could affect their bone density. On his part, Dr. Ikram said there was some evidence showing that the abnormal “plaque” proteins building up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients can actually harm their bone density. However, he also said the research has not been detailed despite past studies linking bone loss to dementia.
Does Bone Loss Occur Years before Dementia Symptoms Appear?
To understand this, researchers analyzed data from a long-running study begun in 1990. They focused on 3,651 participants who, in the early 2000s, were in their early 60s or 70s and had undergone bone density testing. At the time of testing, all were free of dementia.
By 2020, about 19% were newly diagnosed with dementia, predominantly Alzheimer’s. On average, the study found that people with low bone density at the outset had a higher risk of developing dementia.
As you age, your weak bones could lead to significant memory loss. You can avoid this by engaging in more activities to keep you mobile and strengthen your bones.