Good News for Older Adults: Frailty is Reversible
Frailty develops over time, which allows people to accept the incremental changes to their bodies. We are given many opportunities to prevent frailty over the years; that’s why it’s important to fight the tendency to accept frailty as a normal part of aging. Reversibility takes time and effort, but the good news is that frailty is reversible.
Frailty is defined as meeting three of the following descriptions:
- Self-reported exhaustion
- Slow-walking speed
- Low physical activity
- Weakness in grip strength
- Unintentional weight loss of more than 10 pounds in a year
It also often includes frequent falls, a decrease in libido, mood disturbances, incontinence, and muscle wasting (sarcopenia). The failure to thrive can make the late stages of frailty extremely difficult to reverse course, so the earlier an intervention the better.
Addressing issues quickly and talking with your primary physician and other professionals to establish a personalized course of action is key. The time to start is always now.
Due to the American health system relying so heavily on prescription drugs for responding to systems, we looked at other countries for studies on how frailty is reversible. In a 2011 study at the University of Sydney in Australia, as an example, key treatments and interventions made the reversal a reality in the vast majority of people. Exercise was the primary treatment that had the most positive effect. The strength, balance, and endurance exercises can be found at www.webb.org.au. There are similar programs here in the States.
The second largest treatment in reversing frailty is nutrition. Personalized nutritional advice and supplementation matches the nutritional gaps with the diet for the average senior. Older adults need more nutrition and fewer calories so involving a nutritionist or dietitian can be helpful.
The third area that also affects depression is a combination called social factors. Options to increase social engagements along with encouragement to participate add mental aspects to the physical activities taking place. Chronic disease management is required as well as advocacy for prevention of diseases.
Senior care varies from the extreme of acute hospital care where there are interventions for symptoms and sometimes complications from the intervention, to the friendly neighbor stopping by every few weeks to check on someone. In between there are senior centers, home care companies, assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities and many government programs to encourage healthy seniors. CarePatrol provides Certified Senior Advisors at no cost to help figure out which will work.