Muscle strength as a predictor of onset of ADL dependence in people aged 75 years

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2002 Jun;14(3 Suppl):10-5.


The aim of this prospective study over 5 years was to examine maximal isometric strength of multiple muscle groups as a predictor of losing independence in activities of daily living (ADL). The participants were from the Nordic Research on Aging (NORA75). These analyses are restricted to 567 people who at baseline were independent in ADL and participated in strength tests, and who five years later participated in follow-up ADL assessments. Tests on maximal isometric strength of hand grip, elbow flexion, knee extension and trunk flexion and extension were done using adjustable dynamometers. For each muscle group tested, three equal groups were formed for men and women separately based on distributions of results. Those who reported being unable or needing help for eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, walking indoors or transferring from a bed or a chair were rated as ADL dependent. Of the 227 initially ADL independent men, 21 (9.3%) became dependent in ADL. In women, the figures were 30 (8.8%) of 340. Multiple logistic regression models were used to predict the risk of ADL dependence in groups based on strength tertiles. After confirming that the association of muscle strength and incident ADL-dependence was similar in men and women, both genders were included in the same analyses adjusted for body weight and height, gender and research locality. Gender specific cut-offs were used for strength tertiles. All the strength tests predicted ADL dependence, with those being in the lowest tertile having two to three times greater risks than those in the highest tertile of strength. Further adjustments for chronic diseases did not materially change the results. Strength tests could be used to identify people who are still independent in ADL but who are at increased risk of becoming dependent because of poor muscle strength, and who could reduce their risk by strengthening exercises.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Elbow / physiology
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*