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JFSF Vol 8, No 1, March 2023, p.23-31

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-08-023


Original Article

Balance performance and grip strength as predictors of cognitive function among community-dwelling older adults in the USA

Jennifer Blackwood1, Reza Amini2, Gerry Conti3, Quinn Counseller3, Rebekah Taylor3, Deena Fayyad4

  1. Physical Therapy Department, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, Michigan, USA
  2. Department of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, Michigan, USA
  3. Occupational Therapy Department, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, Michigan, USA
  4. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Keywords: Cognition, Memory, Health, Postural stability, Successful aging


Objectives: To investigate how balance and grip strength predicts the probability of cognitive function impairment (i.e., executive function: mild and mild-to-moderate impairment, and delayed recall) over eight years in community-dwelling older adults in the US, controlling for sex and race/ethnicity. Methods: The National Health and Aging Trends Study dataset (2011 – 2018) was employed. Dependent variables included the Clock Drawing Test (Executive Function) and Delayed Word Recall Test. Longitudinal ordered logistic regression examined the association between cognitive function and predictors (i.e., balance and grip strength) over eight waves (n=9800, 1,225 per wave). Results: Those who could complete side-by-side standing and semi-tandem tasks were 33% and 38% less likely to have mild or mild-to-moderate executive function impairment, respectively, relative to those who could not complete these tests. One score decrease in grip strength increased the executive function impairment risk by 13% (Odds Ratio: 0.87, CI: 0.79-0.95). Those who completed the side-by-side tasks were 35% (Odds Ratio: 0.65, CI: 0.44-0.95) less likely to experience delayed recall impairments than those who could not complete this test. With one score decrease in grip strength, the risk of delayed recall impairment was increased by 11% (OR: 0.89, CI: 0.80-1.00). Conclusions: A combination of these two simple tests (i.e., semi-tandem stance and grip strength) can screen for cognitive impairment among community-dwelling older adults to identify people with mild and mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment in clinical settings.
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