Is Your Older Parent Frail?

September 19, 2014
Fighting age-related frailty with exercise and activity is key to an improved lifestyle

Fighting age-related frailty with exercise and activity is key to an improved lifestyle

Age-related frailty is linked to a higher risk of falls and other conditions that have have serious consequences for aging parents and other older adults.

Researchers at Columbia and Johns Hopkins Universities discovered in a 2009 study how important a role activity can play in the ongoing fight against frailty.  Rather than simply old age or chronic disease, researchers found that frailty can be the result of a systems failure in older adults.

Data from women ages 70-79 led researchers to discover that half of those fragile seniors had three or more systems at abnormal levels, compared with 25 percent of the pre-frail and 16 percent of the non-frail population. Physiological factors that were assessed included anemia, inflammation and fine motor skills.

The researchers concluded that tradition treatments, such as medications and hormone replacement, tended not to prevent elder frailty.  Rather, remaining physically active appears to by a key deterrent against age-onset frailty.

What Are Potential Signs of Age-Related Frailty?

Change in personality. Mom has always been interested in talking to the neighbors, reading the newspaper, or volunteering but is withdrawing from those interests. Suggest she see her doctor.

Inactivity. Dad is suddenly much less active than usual. Spend some time with him to investigate possible causes.

Slowing down. Grandpa always used to have a bounce in his step. Now, suddenly, he trudges along. That’s a bad sign and needs to be addressed.

Loss of appetite and weight. Grandma enjoyed cooking and always had a healthy appetite, but she seems to have lost interest in food. You’re right to be concerned.

Unsteadiness. Loss of balance comes with aging but Mom’s increasing unsteadiness is a sign that something could be wrong.

If you suspect that your older parent or loved one could be exhibiting signs of age-related frailty, consult their health care provider.



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