The purpose of the study was to examine the associations of physical capacity, as determined on the basis of self-report and physical measurements, with survival in three groups of elderly people aged 75, 80 and 75–84 years. The main aspects of physical capacity were mobility, walking speed, hand grip strength and knee extension strength. Altogether 1142 persons participated in the mobility interview, of whom 466 also took part in the walking speed test, and 463 in the strength tests. The follow-up periods ranged from 48 to 58 months.

Risk of death was significantly related to difficulties in indoor mobility among the 75–84-year-olds (odds ratio = 1.99, 95% confidence interval = 1.27–3.13) and 75- and 80-year-olds (OR = 1.60, CI = 1.07−2.38) and outdoor mobility among the 75–84-year-olds (OR = 2.44, CI = 1.63−3.67) and 75- and 80-year-olds (OR = 2.75, CI = 1.72–4.40). The odds ratios for hand grip strength (OR = 1.86, CI = 1.13−3.07), knee extension strength (OR = 2.52, CI = 1.50−4.42) and walking time over 10 metres (OR = 1.98, CI = 1.18−3.34) for the 75- and 80-year-olds were also significant. Since these variables can be easily measured and provide valuable information about functional capacity and risk of death they merit inclusion in medical examinations of elderly clients.

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