Background: muscle wasting is associated with a detrimental outcome in older people. Muscle strength measurements could be useful as part of a clinical evaluation of oldest old patients to determine who are most at risk of accelerated decline in the near future.
Objective: this study aimed to assess if handgrip strength predicts changes in functional, psychological and social health among oldest old.
Design: the Leiden 85-plus Study is a prospective population-based follow-up study.
Subjects: five-hundred fifty-five, all aged 85 years at baseline, participated in the study.
Methods: handgrip strength was measured with a handgrip strength dynamometer. Functional, psychological and social health were assessed annually. Baseline data on chronic diseases were obtained from the treating physician, pharmacist, electrocardiogram and blood sample analysis.
Results: at age 85, lower handgrip strength was correlated with poorer scores in functional, psychological and social health domains (all, P < 0.001). Lower baseline handgrip strength predicted an accelerated decline in activities of daily living (ADL) and cognition (both, P <or= 0.001), but not in social health (P > 0.30).
Conclusion: poor handgrip strength predicts accelerated dependency in ADL and cognitive decline in oldest old. Measuring handgrip strength could be a useful instrument in geriatric practice to identify those oldest old patients at risk for this accelerated decline.