Health Report: Frailty, understanding the importance and impact on older patients

Health Reports

Frailty is a term that many people hear, but very few understand.

It’s the slow loss of the body’s strength and energy over time leading to weakness, tiredness and loss of balance.

It can also have a huge impact on your survival outcomes after an injury.

Seventy-four-year-old Vince Cusomato loves spending time in his garden, but as he gets older, he fears not being able to enjoy the great outdoors.

“I don’t want to spend time in a bed reaching a point where I couldn’t do all the things that I wanted to do,” said Vince Cusomato, Patient.

Cathy Maxwell is an expert in geriatric trauma and believes that being frail has many poor outcomes.

“Mortaility, functional decline, readmissions to the hospital,” said Cathy Maxwell, PHD, RN, FAAN, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt School of Nursing.

Maxwell followed 200 adults over the age of 65 with a recent injury.

She found that after one year about six of ten non-frail adults returned to their pre-injury status and three out of ten developed problems like the inability to walk upstairs or kneel. But in frail patients…

“At the end of one year, four out of ten die within one year. Another four out of the ten decline,” said Maxwell.

Only two made it back to pre-injury status. What can you do now to prevent or delay becoming frail?

“The biggest of course is physical activity,” said Maxwell.

Safety is also very important.

“Awareness of things that can lead to injuries. Maybe not climbing up on ladders anymore,” said Maxwell.

Another way to prevent becoming frail is by eating healthy.

Experts found that those who eat a Mediterranean diet were 74% less likely to become frail.

Staying socially connected can help as well.

People with low levels of social connections are three to five times more likely to die early.

Make sure that your body is not running on empty.

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