Preventing frailty and living longer

Health Watch

Frailty is a term that many people hear, but very few understand. It’s the slow loss of the body’s strength and energy over time leading to weakness, tiredness and loss of balance. It can also have a huge impact on your survival outcomes after an injury. Learn steps you can take now to limit your chances of becoming frail later.

Seventy-four-year-old Vince Cusomato loves spending time in his garden. But as he gets older, he fears not being able to enjoy the great outdoors.

“I don’t want to spend time in a bed. Reaching a point where I couldn’t do all the things that I wanted to do,” shared Cusomato.

Cathy Maxwell, PhD, RN, FAAN, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, is an expert in geriatric trauma and believes that being frail has many poor outcomes.

“Mortality, functional decline, re-admissions to the hospital,” stated Maxwell.

Maxwell followed 200 adults over the age of 65 with a recent injury. She found after one year about six out of ten non-frail adults returned to their pre-injury status and three out of ten developed problems like the inability to walk upstairs or kneel. But in frail patients …

“At the end of one year, four out of ten die within one year, another four out of ten decline,” said Maxwell.

And only two made it back to pre-injury status. But what can you do now to prevent or delay becoming frail?

“The biggest, of course, is physical activity,” Maxwell shared.

Safety is also very important.

Maxwell continued, “Awareness of things that can lead to injuries. Maybe not climbing up on ladders anymore.”

Also eating healthy. Experts found those who eat a Mediterranean diet were 74 percent less likely to become frail. And staying socially connected can help as well. People with low levels of social connections are three to five times more likely to die early. So, make sure your body is not running on empty!

Risk of frailty increases with age. One in 25 people between the ages of 65 and 74 are considered frail. That number jumps to one in four after the age of 84.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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