Frailty is often associated with aging and includes several characteristics, such as slowness, weakness, fatigue, and unintended weight loss. It is an indicator of overall health for older adults. Risk factors for frailty include chronic medical conditions, smoking, malnutrition, and depression. Frailty can be identified by checking walking speed and muscle strength, asking about unplanned weight loss, and assessing a patient's level of physical activity and fatigue. A positive screen is > 3 of the following: 1) weight loss (> 10 lbs in the past year), 2) reduced walking speed, 3) low grip strength, 4) self-reported fatigue, and 5) activity intolerance.

What are the risks associated with frailty? 

Frail people are more likely to require assistance with activities of daily living, have health problems, develop infections, be admitted to the hospital, and die. Early identification and treatment of frailty is essential, as it can lead to improved outcomes for patients.

How is frailty treated? 

Ways to treat and prevent frailty include physical activity (such as walking and resistance training), mental activity (such as crossword puzzles, reading, and socializing), recognition and treatment of depression, and maintaining good nutrition with a healthy diet that includes sufficient protein to maintain or build muscle mass.