If I was asked what would be the disease I fear the most, it wouldn’t be cancer or AIDS, but dementia. When I was a little girl, my neighbor, Grandma Leah was nice to me. She sat in front of the house every morning, giving out candies to children who passed by her door.
After I entered middle school, however, she no longer sat there in the mornings. I didn’t pay much attention to that, until my family visited her during a Christmas holiday, when I found she called me someone else’s name and her daughter told us she had dementia.
It was not until many years later that I finally learn from books about what harms dementia could do to people. At that time Grandma Leah had passed away for a few years.
Dementia and hand grip strength
Dementia is an overall term for diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. It can happen to everyone, and may come when you don’t realize it.
Now experts say there’s a simple test that can be easily done at home to find out whether you are at risk of developing dementia, using your hands.
Scientists in the US found that poor hand-grip strength was an early sign of cognitive impairment, which can lead to dementia. Each 5 kg reduction in grip strength was associated with an 18% greater chance of severe cognitive development.
“It’s simple, noninvasive measure – just grasping and squeezing.” Said Prof Ryan McGrath, leader of the research.
At home test
You may measure your grip strength with a hand-held dynamometer, which you can find in your doctor’s place, or in some gyms. All you have to do is squeezing the machine with all of our strength – typically 3 times with each hand, and you can get an average score.
For men, you may want a reading of 105 (pounds) and above to show you are strong, while for women the figure should be more than 57.
If you don't have a dynamometer, there's another trick you can try at home or at the gym.
All you need is a set of bathroom scales, a timer and a pull-up bar - or something similar that will take your weight:
1. Place the scale underneath the bar and set your timer to five seconds.
2. Stand on the scale and check the reading is accurate before placing your hands on the pull-up bar.
3. Without bending your elbows, wrists or knees, squeeze your hands around the bar and lift as much of your weight off the scale as you can using just your hands.
4. Have a friend record the new reading on the scale, which will be less than your body weight.
5. To calculate your grip strength you simply minus your weight while gripping the bar from your current weight.
Record this result and continue to track your grip strength using this same method over time.
Scientists are still looking for the cause between poor hand grip strength and dementia, and the grip strength is only a possible indication to developing dementia. However, keeping your hands strong helps you a lot in daily life, like opening a jar. So keep an eye on your grip strength and try to keep them as you can.