Today people are living longer, but they are not always in good health. Experts predict that the number of people who live past the age of 65 will increase exponentially by 2050. The number will increase from 461 million people presently to 2 billion people. One of the largest issues with elderly people is their frailty, or the decline in their ability to stay strong as they age. With frailty, even small issues can cause serious health decline and result in falls, permanent disability, and even death. With an estimated 12 percent of people over 65 considered frail, it is important to know how to prevent frailty.
What does frailty mean? It means a lack of health and activity in an older person's life that may make that person subject to cognitive decline, chronic disease, falls, and permanent disability. The following signs in an elderly loved one could signify frailty:
Studies show that elderly people who show frailty by age 65 have an 18 percent higher chance of early mortality. Frailty can look obvious, such as a person with a cane. At other times, it is not so obvious. Cognitive decline and a compromised immune system are much more subtle signs of frailty.
It might not be 100 percent possible to prevent frailty. However, there are ways elderly people and those who care for them can work together to prevent its onset. The following are simple ways to get started:
Family members and caregivers do well to do all they can to keep an elderly loved one active. It is when the elderly sit around for a majority of each day, staring at a television or doing nothing at all, that frailty becomes a serious problem. Today there are many ways to stay active, whether the person is aging in place or is in assisted living. There are groups and activities through various senior centers and even park districts that can keep seniors on their toes. For busy family members, hiring a home health aide, nurse, or other professional to come in and check on an elderly one may be helpful. Such an investment ensures that the elderly loved one is moving, eating, and actively using his or her brain.
As people live longer, it is important to work on positively affecting their quality of life. One impactful way to do this is to combat frailty.
Clegg, A., Young, J., Iliffe, S., Rikkert, M. O., Rockwood, K. (March 2, 2013). Frailty in Older People. The Lancet, 381(9868): 752-762. Available at http://europepmc.org/articles/pmc4098658. Retrieved on July 25, 2016.
John Hopkins Medicine. Stay Strong: Four Ways to Beat the Frailty Risk. Available at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/stay-strong-four-ways-to-beat-the-frailty-risk. Retrieved on July 25, 2016.
Young, H. (May 2003). Challenges and Solutions for Care of Frail Older Adults. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 8(2). American Nurses Association. Available at http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Volume82003/No2May2003/OlderAdultsCareSolutions.html. Retrieved on July 25, 2016.