A very worrying term isnt it? And being used rather a lot too. Wrongly.
If you hear the term “The frail elderly”, what do you think? Who are they?
If your GP says he needs to do your Frailty Score, how do you feel?
Here is a dictionary definition:
Frailty is a progressive physiological decline in multiple organ systems marked by loss of function, loss of physiological reserve and increased vulnerability to disease and death. Frail older adults are vulnerable to poor health outcomes including an increased risk of disability, social isolation and institutionalisation
All a bit scary isnt it? It doesnt need to be. It doesn’t describe later years today.
Time to get the facts clearer.
The Geriatricians need a way of describing the extent to which people are remaining independent. Here is one of the Scales in common use. The Rockwell Scale.
These are the first 6 categories. The majority of us over 65 operate happily in the top 4 categories.
We will stay in the top 4 categories for years. Probably for the rest of our lives.
We will have ups and downs, but unless something serious happens wont slide too far. Mostly repairable stuff nowadays. And much of it manageable /preventable if you and your GP keep an eye on it.
The final categories are where the actual frailty slide kicks in.
In effect true frailty issues arise in the last few years. Which can of course, like terminal illness, be at any age.
Interesting, that these stages are not age dependent. My own GP confirms that the majority people stay in a higher category until something sudden happens.
In other words, ageing is not a steady downward slide! It is a curve, and a manageable one too.
Lets look at the idea of our Life Curve.
Here is one:
You can see that with good life patterns it is now possible to keep most people on the optimum curve. And with good GP management, surgery if needed and good rehabilitation, you can get yourself back up if you have slipped.
The result is that our Frailty Scores stay good for years.
The ultimate aim of course is to eliminate the curve. Square it!
Make it a steady plateau with a final cliff edge!
Rather like that idea…Though not sure if it needs to be at 100!
But you can see how the idea of ageing has changed over the past years.
Over to you!
Where are you on the Frailty Scale?
Something you should be doing about it?
Get back to the optimum curve?
Make sure you dont slide?
And be #AgeProud about it! Out loud!
Ensure that planners and designers understand that to square that curve we need the ultimate in Age Friendly houses and public places.