Handgrip strength as a predictor of functional, psychological and social health. A prospective population-based study among the oldest old

Age Ageing. 2010 May;39(3):331-7. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afq022. Epub 2010 Mar 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires