Dementia is one of the most common mental health disorders affecting many older adults around the world. Authors estimate 50 million around the world suffer with this diagnosis at a staggering cost of 1 trillion dollars a year. Although the causes of dementia are multifactorial previous researchers have shown many modifiable risk factors, including smoking, nutrition, and exercise, can be improved to reduce an individual’s risk and slow cognitive decline. In particular, an individual’s strength continues to emerge as a contributor to an older adult’s independence and in a recent study their risk of dementia.
Esteban-Cornejo and colleagues conducted an observational study investigating the association between grip strength and both the incidence and death rates from dementia (J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2022). Authors included over 466,000 participants (Average age 57, 55% women) from the United Kingdom and followed participants over an average of 9 years. Over this time period, around 1% of participants developed dementia with around 25% dying after their diagnosis. Lower grip strength, as an indirect measure of total body strength, was found to be associated with a higher risk of developing dementia. Interestingly these results held up after removing confounding variables including socioeconomic, demographic, and health variables.