Frailty in elderly people
Frailty is a common situation for people over the age of 65. It is characterized by a lack of adaptability and capacity to recover from external stress such as surgery, trauma or diseases.
A more specific definition is:
“A condition or syndrome which results from a multi-system reduction in reserve capacity to the extent that a number of physiological systems are close to, or past, the threshold of symptomatic clinical failure. As a consequence the frail person is at increased risk of disability and death from minor external stresses” (Partridge et al., 2012)
It is often associated with reduce muscle power, limited joint mobility, lack of stamina and motor function dysfunction which has a negative impact on other systems (cardiac, respiratory, etc.). Let’s see an example of vicious circle cause by frailty:
An elderly person with postural disorder such as an increase kyphosis (a person with its back always bends forward) will have less mobility in its spine and ribs. This lack of rib cage compliance will lead to reduce breathing capacity then reduce stamina. Consequently, it will be more and more tiring for the person to perform is daily life activity such as going upstairs or walking.
However the most common and negative effect of frailty is the inability to recover from a surgery or a trauma and is often associated with a Post Fall Syndrome.
Frailty can be managed and its consequence can be prevent with:
- Exercise (Forster et al., 2010)
- Nutrition (Goodnough et al., 2011)
- Positive affect (Ostir et al., 2004)/depression (Billota et al., 2010)
- Psychosocial: social interaction (Lang et al., 2009)