Frailty is known as a medical syndrome but what does that mean? Ask my kids what a syndrome is and they'll probably tell me it's the bad guy in Pixar's production 'The Incredibles'.
A syndrome, however, as a medical term which describes a collection of symptoms which occur together to produce a particular condition.
This means there is no single symptom which defines a person as frail - instead, it is an aggregation of a number of health issues.
The good news is, research has uncovered which symptoms seem to show up first AND frailty can be prevented and sometimes even reversed!!!
AGEING WITH CONFIDENCE
There are a number of ways to measure frailty. This particular scale from the Canadian Study on Health & Aging is very useful, especially as it gives clear, easily recognised markers.
If you have noticed changes in your activity levels, it may be worth considering what can be done to help you remain as capable as possible.
*IADLs (see category 5) are Instrumental activities of daily living. These are activities which allow an individual to live independently such as, housekeeping and cleaning, preparing meals, managing money, managing medication etc
If you are reading this and you are in category 1-3, the general advice is to maintain or increase your activity in order to be as strong and capable as possible. We would always recommend consulting your medical practitioner first. Overly stressing the body and increasing your exercise regime too quickly may be detrimental.
Is frailty and weakness linked to lifestyle?
Sarcopenia (a term you will see a lot here) is the loss of muscle mass, strength and performance as we age; approx 8% loss per decade from 40-70yrs and 15% thereafter.
However, research done on masters athletes showed they had remarkably similar muscle tissue to younger people due to their training intensity.
Many now believe that sarcopenia may be down to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet than to a person's age.
So, what should you do?
Initially, get active doing something you enjoy that gets your heart pumping, muscles moving and push your body just a little more than usual.