The Relationship Between Hand Grip Strength, Malnutrition Risk, and Cognitive Decline in Persons Referred to a Specialist Memory Clinic
Cognitive changes are a normal part of aging, but if those cognitive changes exceed what is expected then one may receive a diagnosis of cognitive impairment. People with cognitive impairment are at a higher risk for malnutrition than the rest of the population, and people who are malnourished are at a higher risk for symptoms of cognitive impairment. Assessment for malnutrition and cognitive impairment can both be time consuming and difficult processes that require highly trained practitioners to complete. Hand grip strength assessment is a simple process and is measured with a dynamometer. A decrease in grip strength is associated with both malnutrition and cognitive impairment. There have been studies examining malnutrition risk, cognitive impairment, and hand grip strength separately, however, there is currently no literature exploring associations between these variables in a memory clinic population. This study aims to address this gap in the literature. This study was completed using data from the longitudinal database from the Rural and Remote Memory Clinic (RRMC), a specialist clinic that provides interdisciplinary care to patients who live in rural or remote areas of Saskatchewan. The SCREEN© (Seniors in the Community Risk Evaluation for Eating and Nutrition), a validated measure of nutritional risk in community dwelling older adults, was used to assess malnutrition risk. Cognitive function was measured with the MMSE (Mini Mental State Exam), a measure of cognitive function; the CDRSOB (Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes), which measures dementia severity; and RRMC diagnosis status. A dynamometer was used to measure grip strength. These variables were measured with descriptive analyses and compared with correlational analyses, linear regressions, and logistic regressions. Results indicated that only 10% of participants are not at risk for malnutrition. Results also indicate that as malnutrition risk improves, cognitive function decreases. Associations between malnutrition risk and hand grip strength, and hand grip strength and cognitive function were not statistically significant. However, literature on the topic suggests that relationships do exist between these variables. Therefore, it is recommended that this study be replicated in the future with a larger sample size and over a longer time period. If these relationships persist in future studies in memory clinic populations, then perhaps hand grip strength could be measured frequently in memory clinic settings to easily detect any changes in cognitive function or malnutrition risk, and allow practitioners to provide treatments and interventions.
malnutrition, malnutrition risk, hand grip strength, grip strength, functional measurement, cognitive impairment, cognitive decline, dementia, older adults, memory clinic
Master of Science (M.Sc.)