What is the condition known as frailty?

Frailty is an age-related condition that causes a person to become weaker and more dependent on family members and friends. As a result, the patient will notice a drop in psychological and physical reserves. Primarily, frailty is recognised early to improve the outcome of further treatment and minimise the risk of harm.

What are the signs?

Common signs of frailty include the following:

  • Sudden and unexpected weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced level of activity
  • Walking very slowly

Who is at greater risk?

Older people are at risk of becoming frail. As a result, they will begin to notice a decline in their mental, physical and emotional well-being. Generally, people sixty-five and older are at greater risk of frailty.

The major issue concerning frailty is the long-term effects of an unfavourable event such as a sudden fall, infection or joint replacement surgery. Fortunately, frailty can improve with proper management but can also worsen without adequate care.

How do you treat the condition?

A comprehensive geriatric assessment serves as the gold standard for the treatment of frailty. Once the individual is identified as frail, a holistic review is required for long-term healthcare planning. A medical review involves a referral to an interdisciplinary team for a comprehensive geriatric assessment. The time taken for a complete medical review is expected to last between forty-five to sixty minutes. A medical review also consists of a physical exam to check for immobility, cognitive decline and signs of anxiety or depression.

A frailty assessment factors in the person’s living conditions, physical and nutritional status and cognitive, mental and emotional support. Frailty increases an individual’s vulnerability, making them more prone to accidents, injuries or falls. However, a comprehensive geriatric assessment and review help optimise and maintain an individual’s health. The assessment outcome will allow doctors to map out a care plan, including an end-of-life one.


Is frailty a normal part of ageing?

Not all older people become frail. Frailty can be associated with other health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes.

How do you check for frailty?

Routine health checks, consistent geriatric assessments, physical checks and medical reviews are methods used to check for frailty.

Is there a way to prevent frailty?

Doctors recommend regular physical activity to prevent complications that may arise due to frailty. In addition, the risk of frailty increases due to obesity, inactivity, poor diet and inhaling tobacco smoke.