Learn more about frailty and what you can do to prevent and even reverse the condition, from Dr Laura Tay, Senior Consultant at the Department of General Medicine (Geriatric Medicine) at Sengkang General Hospital.
Find out if you could be considered frail.
Take a simple FRAIL test below:
Fatigue - Do you feel tired most or all of the time in the past four weeks?
Resistance - Do you have difficulty climbing a flight of stairs?
Aerobic - Do you have difficulty walking one block?
Illnesses - Do you have five or more medical conditions?
Loss of weight - Have you lost more than 5% of your previous weight in the past six months?
If your answer is “yes” to one or two of the above questions, you are at a pre-frail stage. If you have three or more “yes” answers, you are considered frail. Arrange an appointment with your doctor today and discuss possible treatments.
Fraility is not an inevitable outcome of growing old
Frailty is a condition arising from ageing and underlying medical illnesses, yet it is potentially preventable. More than half of older persons above 85 years old are actually not frail. It is important to identify frailty early as it can lead to serious consequences, such as falls and disability.
While there is no standard definition for frailty, someone can be considered frail if he or she experiences at least three of the following:
- Unintentional weight loss of at least 4.5kg in the pastone year
- Feeling weak with difficulty climbing stairs unassisted
- Feeling like every task requires a huge effort
- Low level of physical activity including household chores and exercise
- Slowness in walking
Yet, it is not a lost cause for someone identified as frail. “There is extensive evidence that frailty can be improved with appropriate treatment,” said Dr Laura Tay, Senior Consultant with
Department of General Medicine (Geriatric Medicine),
Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the
SingHealth group. “That said, frailty is due to more than one factor, therefore requiring a multi-dimensional approach. And, a comprehensive doctor assessment to screen for contributing medical conditions will be important.” she added.
Frailty is preventable with a healthy lifestyle
"Frailty can be prevented and treated, and doctors at SKH are helping patients to do just that," says Dr Tay.
As frailty is linked to a person’s physical, mental and social functioning, treatment and prevention are also directed at these areas. Here are some things you can do to keep frailty at bay:
- Eating a healthy diet to optimise nutrition
- Having regular exercise to improve strength and endurance
- Keeping an active social life for emotional health and mental stimulation
- Controlling vascular risk factors with regular medical check-ups
- Early treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
Besides adopting a healthy lifestyle early in adulthood, saying goodbye to smoking, excessive drinking and a sedentary lifestyle go a long way in combating frailty too!
As frailty can develop silently and it is often not apparent until complications arise, screening for early detection is advised.
In our community health screenings, we have begun education efforts to teach the public about frailty. We have also included frailty tests to measure the gait speed and grip strength of older persons.
The twilight years could become some of our best years yet. That can happen when we start making the right lifestyle choices now to maximise our health and prevent frailty in old age.