Background: Individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are more than twice as likely to incur a serious fall as the general population of older adults. Although AD is commonly associated with cognitive changes, impairments in other clinical measures such as strength or functional mobility (i.e., gait and balance) may precede symptomatic cognitive impairment in preclinical AD and lead to increased fall risk. Objective: To examine mechanisms (i.e., functional mobility, cognition, AD biomarkers) associated with increased falls in cognitively normal older adults. Methods: This 1-year study was part of an ongoing longitudinal cohort study. We examined the relationships among falls, clinical measures of functional mobility and cognition, and neuroimaging AD biomarkers in cognitively normal older adults. We also investigated which domain(s) best predicted fall propensity and severity through multiple regression models. Results: A total of 182 older adults were included (mean age 75 years, 53% female). A total of 227 falls were reported over the year; falls per person ranged from 0-16 with a median of 1. Measures of functional mobility were the best predictors of fall propensity and severity. Cognition and AD biomarkers were associated with each other but not with the fall outcome measures. Conclusion: These results suggest that, although subtle changes in cognition may be more closely associated with AD neuropathology, functional mobility indicators better predict falls in cognitively normal older adults. This study adds to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying falls in older adults and could lead to the development of targeted fall prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-750
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • cognition
  • falls
  • functional mobility


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