I’m falling into disrepair.

Anne Tyler


The Frailty Syndrome: 5 Traits
  1. Weight Loss > 10 lbs over a year
  2. Frequent Exhaustion
  3. Lower Levels of Activity
  4. Slow Gait
  5. Poor Grip Strength
Source: Dr. Linda Fried, Johns Hopkins 2001

Fundamental Problems with Frailty

-It’s Age-Related 4 out of 10 ‘Frail’ are > 85 yrs old

-Lack of a “physiological safety net” to bounce back from infections and injuries

-Medical System is not equipped well to deal with frailty; system design is Reactive (too late)

-Loved ones become Collateral damage and get pulled down by the frail elder

Good News: Frailty is not necessarily a given with old age.

Practical Suggestions to Combat Frailty:

  1. Cultivate Psychological Resilience (“Self-efficacy”)
  2. Find A Purpose (meaning making)
  3. Simple basic good nutrition and adequate sleep
  4. Body Movement i.e. Feldenkrais Method (Awareness Through Body Movement)
  5. Exercise for Older Adults 
  6. Build Social Capital by Nurturing Community

Ponder this –

Most older adults don’t want to burden others with the opportunity cost of Frailty. This often means time off work or away from other commitments for ‘informal’ caregivers. Time spent in caregiving could have been invested in other activities with parents, like travel or time with friends/family if frailty could be postponed or avoided altogether. Avoid the path of frailty, it’s the road to Premature Institutionalization.

(See Compression of Morbidity)

Take home message:

You can take the time to be fit, or you’ll have to make the time to be frail.

-Patrick Roden PhD

(Concepts from The Challenge of Treating ‘Frailty’ by Richard Gunderman The Atlantic)