What Does ‘Frailty’ Mean?
“Frailty is a state of health where the person’s overall well-being and ability to function independently are reduced and vulnerability to deterioration are increased. People who are frail tend to spend more time in hospital, are less likely to return to their own home, are more likely to need care support if they do go home and are also likely to have extended stays in long-term care”.
– the Canadian Frailty Network, 2019
Why is it Important to Understand Frailty?
Research demonstrates that frailty may be prevented, postponed, or reversed when strategies are used to address the needs of a senior experiencing frailty.
Understanding the Risk Factors for Experiencing Frailty
Some factors that might increase a person’s risk of experiencing frailty include:
- Being over 80 years of age
- Having loss of muscle and strength
- Having reduced energy and low stamina (e.g. unable to walk up a flight of stairs)
- Showing slowed ability to complete daily tasks (e.g. getting dressed takes a very long time)
- Experiencing unintentional weight loss
- Experiencing a decreased ability to recover from an illness or injury
- Having many and/or long-term complex medical conditions
- Having a diagnosis of depression
- Becoming dependent on others to support daily living
- Having impaired mental abilities or changes in thinking
How do I Identify Frailty in the Person I am Caring For?
Using a screening tool can be a first step to identifying frailty. The Pictorial Fit-Frail Scale (PFFS) is an example of a screening tool that can be used by family and friend caregivers. This tool takes approximately five minutes to complete.
A completed PFFS can be used as a tool to support communication with the person you care for and health care professionals.