Summary: According to a Frontiers in Physiology report, frailty may not be an inevitability as we age. It may be treatable, and even preventable.
Frailty, often assumed to be an inevitable part of aging, may be more preventable than most think.
Age-related frailty may be a treatable and preventable health problem, just like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, highlights a review in Frontiers in Physiology.
“Societies are not aware of frailty as an avoidable health problem and most people usually resign themselves to this condition,” says Jerzy Sacha, Head of the Catheterization Laboratory at the University Hospital in Opole, Poland. “Fortunately, by proper lifestyle and adequate physical, mental, and social activities, one may prevent or delay the frailty state.”
In their recent article, Sacha and his colleagues at the University of Opole and the Opole University of Technology reviewed over one hundred publications on recognizing, treating, and preventing frailty, with the aim of raising awareness of this growing health problem.
Frailty encompasses a range of symptoms that many people assume are just an inescapable part of aging. These include fatigue, muscle weakness, slower movements, and unintentional weight loss. Frailty also manifests as psychological and cognitive symptoms such as isolation, depression, and trouble thinking as quickly and clearly as patients could in their younger years.
These symptoms decrease patients’ self-sufficiency and frail patients are more likely to suffer falls, disability, infections, and hospitalization, all of which can contribute to an earlier death. But, as Sacha’s review highlights, early detection and treatment of frailty, and pre-frailty, may help many of the elderly live healthier lives.
Sacha’s review shows ample evidence that the prevalence and impact of frailty can be reduced, at least in part, with a few straightforward measures. Unsurprisingly, age-appropriate exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective interventions for helping the elderly stay fit. Careful monitoring of body weight and diet are also key to ensuring that older patients are not suffering from malnutrition, which often contributes to frailty.
Socialization is another critical aspect of avoiding the cognitive and psychological symptoms of frailty. Loneliness and loss of purpose can leave the elderly unmotivated and disengaged, and current social programs could improve by more thoroughly addressing intellectual and social needs, as well as physical.
It’s not clear yet just how much such interventions can benefit the aging world population, but Sacha’s review suggests that raising public awareness is a critical first step. Improved recognition of frailty as a preventable condition by both physicians and patients could contribute significantly to avoiding or delaying frailty.
“Social campaigns should inform societies about age related frailty and suggest proper lifestyles to avoid or delay these conditions,” says Sacha. “People should realize that they may change their unfavorable trajectories to senility and this change in mentality is critical to preparing communities for greater longevity.”
Source: Melissa Cochrane – Frontiers
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Original Research: Full open access research for “Is It Time to Begin a Public Campaign Concerning Frailty and Pre-frailty? A Review Article” by Jerzy Sacha, Magdalena Sacha, Jacek Soboń, Zbigniew Borysiuk and Piotr Feusette in Frontiers in Physiology. Published online August 4 2017 doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.00484
Is It Time to Begin a Public Campaign Concerning Frailty and Pre-frailty? A Review Article
Frailty is a state that encompasses losses in physical, psychological or social domains. Therefore, frail people demonstrate a reduced potential to manage external stressors and to respond to life incidents. Consequently, such persons are prone to various adverse consequences such as falls, cognitive decline, infections, hospitalization, disability, institutionalization, and death. Pre-frailty is a condition predisposing and usually preceding the frailty state. Early detection of frailty (i.e., pre-frailty) may present an opportunity to introduce effective management to improve outcomes. Exercise training appears to be the basis of such management in addition to periodic monitoring of food intake and body weight. However, various nutritional supplements and other probable interventions, such as treatment with vitamin D or androgen, require further investigation. Notably, many societies are not conscious of frailty as a health problem. In fact, people generally do not realize that they can change this unfavorable trajectory to senility. As populations age, it is reasonable to begin treating frailty similarly to other population-affecting disorders (e.g., obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases) and implement appropriate preventative measures. Social campaigns should inform societies about age-related frailty and pre-frailty and suggest appropriate lifestyles to avoid or delay these conditions. In this article, we review current information concerning therapeutic interventions in frailty and pre-frailty and discuss whether a greater public awareness of such conditions and some preventative and therapeutic measures may decrease their prevalence.
“Is It Time to Begin a Public Campaign Concerning Frailty and Pre-frailty? A Review Article” by Jerzy Sacha, Magdalena Sacha, Jacek Soboń, Zbigniew Borysiuk and Piotr Feusette in Frontiers in Physiology. Published online August 4 2017 doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.00484