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  • Cameron Oglesby

Does frailty have to be a part of aging?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

About 15% of American adults over 65 are considered frail, in that they meet three or more of these criteria:

· Low physical activity

· Weak grip strength

· Low energy

· Slow walking speed

· Non-deliberate weight loss

Another 28 to 44% of older adults are considered pre-frail, in that they meet two of those markers.

That’s the bad news about frailty. The good news is that while aging is inevitable, frailty doesn’t have to be. People can prevent, delay, or minimize it – even reverse it – with a few basic steps.

“We’re seeing evidence that particularly physical activity and resistance exercise, and the right diet, seems to be very effective in delaying the onset of frailty or preventing it,” says Dr. Linda Fried, a geriatrician and dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Two big factors in frailty are loss of muscle and bone mass. This makes women more vulnerable, since they start off with less muscle mass than men and are more susceptible to osteoporosis. That’s why a healthy diet with enough lean protein is important. As people get older, they tend to skimp on protein, for different reasons. One could be cost, especially in today’s record-inflation economy. Others could include loss of taste or appetite, having a hard time chewing or swallowing, or having a hard time getting to the supermarket or standing up cooking by the stove. Calcium and vitamin D are also good for bone health, so yogurt, milk, and leafy greens like spinach wouldn’t hurt.

Heart disease doubles the risk of frailty, so aerobic exercise – even walking a few times a day – can lower that risk. And resistance exercise can help rebuild some of that muscle mass.

So good senior care is about much more than managing chronic conditions, making sure the clients take their meds, and helping them with activities of daily living. It’s about basic steps to help them be stronger, healthier, happier, and as independent as possible. What those steps are will differ from person to person, since no two people, at any age, are identical. So at Senior Insights, we conduct a thorough three-part needs assessment with prospective clients and their families. Based on the results, we custom-design a holistic senior care management plan to achieve that goal – including making sure they eat their spinach.

Please contact us to learn what a difference that approach can make.

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