Baseline Mobility is Not Associated with Decline in Cognitive Function in Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Findings From The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2018 Apr;26(4):438-448. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2017.11.006. Epub 2017 Nov 22.


Objectives: Few studies examine the relationship between Timed Up-and-Go (TUG), a commonly used clinical test, and cognitive decline. This study examines whether TUG, usual gait speed (UGS), and dual-task gait speed (DTGS) predict decline in global cognition, executive function, processing speed, memory, and attention with follow-up of up to 5.9 years.

Design: Longitudinal study.

Setting: The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), a nationally representative cohort study.

Participants: Community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 years, with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score ≥18 and no known history of memory impairment, dementia, Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease were included (N = 2,250).

Measurements: Participants completed mobility tasks during the baseline health assessment and cognitive tasks during interviews conducted at 2 year intervals (waves 1, 2, and 3) and health assessments (waves 1 and 3). Linear and Poisson mixed effects regression models were used to examine longitudinal associations between mobility and each cognitive test, adjusting for sociodemographics and physical and mental health.

Results: There was little evidence of an association between TUG, UGS, or DTGS with decline in cognitive function after adjusting for confounders.

Conclusions: These mobility tasks are not sensitive predictors of cognitive decline in this high-functioning, community-dwelling sample; nonetheless, limited decline in cognitive function was observed during follow-up. Further work with longer follow-up and/or analysis of more specific and comprehensive measures associated with gait is required.

Keywords: Gait speed; cognitive impairment; dual task; timed up-and-go.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cognition*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies