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What Are the 5 Main Indicators of Frailty?

Senior experiences frailty using a walker to get around outside.

According to the National Institute of Health, frailty is the dynamic process in which physical, psychological and/or social functioning diminishes with age. Older individuals living with frailty might experience various symptoms that can impede their overall quality of life. As a caregiver, it becomes your responsibility to recognize these symptoms and to understand the difference between being frail and having frailty.

Oftentimes, the onset of frailty occurs as people become older. In fact, nearly one in four individuals over the age of 85 are living with frailty. The long-term condition has been linked to changes in the immune system, inflammation and the decline of the musculoskeletal and endocrine systems.

The 5 Dimensions of Frailty for The Aging Population

Frailty impacts the body and the mind. There are good days and bad days when it comes to frailty, and it’s important to help loved ones get the amount of support they need when they need it.

While there are many tests doctors can use to diagnose frailty in seniors, one of the most common methods is Fried’s frailty phenotype. This widely used measurement allows clinicians to enter five standardized measurements. The output is a single score generated based on the individual answers. Seniors can fall into three main categories:

  • Frail (Score of 3-5)
  • Pre-frail (Score of 1-2)
  • Robust (Score of 0)

The five phenotypic criteria used to classify individuals are as follows:

  1. Unintentional weight loss
  2. Exhaustion
  3. Low energy expenditure
  4. Low grip strength
  5. Slow walking speed

Clinicians often use the online John Hopkins Frailty Assessment Calculator to enter the five standardized measurements above to determine where a senior is classified on the frailty scale.

Treating Frailty in Seniors

While frailty can occur as a natural consequence of aging, it’s still important to be diagnosed as early as possible. Physical exercise, a controlled protein-rich diet and cognitive exercise are all ways to treat and possibly prevent frailty in older adults.

If you have concerns about your loved one’s wellbeing, it’s in your best interest to speak with a medical professional. They can help you assess your loved one’s frailty and determine the best course of treatment to help reduce symptoms and slow progression.

Supporting Seniors Through Every Stage of Life at Heritage Senior Living

Heritage Senior Living is unique from other senior living communities in our commitment to maintaining an atmosphere of respect, dignity, and independence for residents. By allowing residents to find the exact level of care, support, and programming, they can thrive in retirement and improve quality of life. We encourage you to learn more about our senior living community. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a virtual tour.

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