How to stop yourself from becoming frail in old age

Older Australian women are most at risk of frailty, according to new research.

Frailty warning for seniors

Older Australian women are most at risk of frailty, according to new research. However, there are simple interventions that can help senior Australians maintain their independence and improve their health.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the Australian Government-funded frailty study outlines a life-changing opportunity.

“Frailty detection is a game-changer in helping senior Australians enjoy a healthier and more active future,” said Mr Wyatt.

“By taking the simple FRAIL five-point online test and following up with your GP as necessary, people have the opportunity to detect frailty before it hits, allowing them to take action to live better lives, remain in their own homes for longer and avoid potential hospitalisation.

“People classed as frail are more at risk from fall injuries, deteriorating health and premature death.”

The Australian-first study, conducted by aged care provider Benetas, took 3000 home-dwelling seniors aged 65 and over through the FRAIL Questionnaire Screening Tool test, targeting Fatigue, Resistance, Ambulation Illnesses and Loss of weight (FRAIL).

The study found:

  • the frailty prevalence rate was six per cent

  • 38 per cent fell into the pre-frail category

  • slightly more than half (56 per cent) were categorised as robust

  • women were found to have a much higher incidence of frailty than men

  • five per cent of men were frail, compared with eight per cent of women

  • 34 per cent of men were pre-frail compared with 41 per cent of women

  • almost half of the women surveyed were either frail or pre-frail, compared with less than 40 per cent of men.

“The results show frailty is not present in all seniors surveyed, suggesting it is not an inevitable result of ageing and may be prevented or treated,” said Mr Wyatt.

“Importantly, the study recommends that with the right support at the right time, frailty can be halted or even reversed by consulting with health professionals for safe, simple, inexpensive, practical interventions.”

These include:

  • modifying diet to include more proteins

  • taking Vitamin D supplements

  • increasing activity, including light resistance exercises and walking

  • evaluating prescription medication intake, in consultation with your GP.

Mr Wyatt encouraged all seniors to take the FRAIL test.

“We know Australians overwhelmingly want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible and that staying strong and healthy is the best way to achieve this,” he said.

“Early intervention strategies like the FRAIL test are critical and can also contribute to a more sustainable and efficient aged care system.”

The FRAIL test is available through the Positive Ageing Resource Centre.



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    23rd Jan 2018
    I'm 55, male, and frail. Why? Several factors: (1) My right leg is slightly shorter than my left because of surgery to my right ankle in 2012; (2) A cataract in my right eye, impairing my sense of proprioception; (3) Dilated cardiomyopathy which reduces my stamina markedly; (4) Variable oedema. I have had numerous falls, though not for a while now.
    23rd Jan 2018
    May you never have another fall. I have slowed my pace a bit so I see more trip hazards!
    23rd Jan 2018
    I took the test and if I had answered the questions before going on hormone replacement therapy I would have been in a higher risk category, but because of HRT my score puts me in the low risk category because I am no longer fatigued after starting HRT although I can't walk up a set of stairs because of a disability. I noticed the flaw in this tool used for determining frailty which is that they use all able-bodied criteria in the questions for determining frailty. Like, if you can't walk up stairs or need to use crutches to walk the block that would not necessarily mean that you are frail if you do other things to keep fit such as a chair cardio workout using weights, pilates floor exercises, yoga, psysiotherapy, healthy diet etc? I do these things including HRT to prevent my muscles from totally deflating and becoming frail in old age even though I can't do many things as a result of injury. Maybe I am fighting a losing battle?

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