Losing one's grip: a bivariate growth curve model of grip strength and nonverbal reasoning from age 79 to 87 years in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921

Ian J. Deary, Wendy Johnson, Alan J. Gow, Alison Pattie, Caroline E. Brett, Timothy C. Bates, John M. Starr

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives. Grip strength and reasoning are associated in old age. This is one of the few longitudinal studies addressing whether aging of one causes decline in the other or whether they share causal influences.

    Methods. The Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 were assessed for grip strength and nonverbal reasoning at ages M = 79 (N = 550), M = 83 (N = 321), and M = 87 (N = 207). Associations among intercepts and slopes for grip strength and reasoning and covariates were examined by fitting a bivariate growth curve structural equation model.

    Results. Grip strength and reasoning declined with age. They were each significantly correlated on each occasion. Their intercepts were significantly correlated (.20) but not their slopes. Neither intercept was significantly associated with its own or the other's slope. Better reasoning was associated with higher childhood intelligence, more professional occupations, male sex, and being taller. There were no significant reasoning slope associations. Stronger grip strength was associated with male sex, being taller, and drinking less alcohol. Women showed less age-related decline in grip strength.

    Discussion. Physical and mental "grips" declined in the ninth decade of life. Their levels were significantly correlated; their slopes were not. There was no evidence for reciprocal dynamic influences nor for shared associations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)699-707
    Number of pages9
    JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


    • OLD-AGE
    • Longitudinal cohort study
    • Grip strength
    • Aging
    • Growth curve modeling
    • Intelligence
    • Reasoning

    Cite this