Nearly Half of 40-Year-Olds are at risk of Becoming Frail
One of the keys to successful aging is the ability to maintain your health and independence. A study in the journal BMC Geriatrics sums up successful aging as, "...avoiding or delaying the onset of frailty as people grow older."
To figure out how people were doing, researchers evaluated participants ranging in age from 40 to 75. They looked for several things including; unintentional weight loss, exhaustion, low physical activity levels, poor hand grip strength and slow walking speed. Subjects were then put into one of three groups.
- People with none of the issues were considered Not Frail.
- Anyone with two issues was considered Prefrail (you were on your way to becoming frail).
- If you were dealing with three or more of the indicators, you were considered Frail.
The results of the study showed that an amazing 45% of 40-49 year olds were dealing with pre-frailty. If they continued on their current path, they were at significantly greater risk of poor health, losing their independence, increased hospitalization and an early demise.
The problem wasn't limited to the 656 urban-dwelling Australians included in this study. The results matched up with similar studies in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia (Taiwan).
The pre-frailty indicators included poor trunk stability and leg strength, poor balance and foot sensations, poor hearing, being underweight and low lean muscle mass.
Researchers found that there were simple ways to move yourself out of that pre-frailty category. You need to do things to improve your balance, dynamic stability and muscle strength.
It's best to choose activities that can fit into your life and preferences. Something as simple as a couple of hours a week of strength training and another couple hours weekly doing cardio activities are ideal. Riding a bike, swimming and dancing are also considered highly beneficial.
Moving from pre-frailty to full-on frail is the next problem. The most significant predictors that you are at risk include: High psychological distress, living alone, having health worries, and poor sleep quality; stair climbing, appetite, hydration; continence and total food intake. There are a wide range of remedies available for these problems, but often when people reach this point, they can start to feel overwhelmed.
The best way to tackle issues is to deal with them one at a time. Identify your first problem and work on fixing the underlying causes. If you don't sleep well, talk to your doctor about doing a sleep study to see if there are medical issues that interfere. Consider making changes to your bed, the room you sleep in and even what you wear to bed. What you've been doing for years probably isn't working, so you should consider bringing in experts to help you with the problems.
Researchers say that “pre-frailty” occurs in an astounding 45% of 40-49 year olds. That’s roughly the same percentage of 70-75 year olds who experience pre-frailty.
There is a belief that everyone becomes frail as they age. We are told that aging and a decline in our bodies are somehow linked. The reality we've discovered from this and several other studies is, age is NOT an indicator of frailty. If you don't constantly take steps to stay healthy, you can become frail in your 40s just as easily as you can in your 70s.
You can also fight back. Once you know what you're dealing with, you'll have the power to make changes. Bring this column to your doctor or health care provider and ask them for an honest evaluation of your condition.
The researchers concluded that; “screening people aged 40 years and older not only for physical activity, balance, hearing, foot sensation and muscle strength, but also for mental health, continence, health concerns and poor sleep quality would seem to be important in preventing or delaying frailty onset.”
You can download the entire study here: Pre-frailty factors in community-dwelling 40–75 year olds: opportunities for successful ageing: S. J. Gordon, N. Baker, M. Kidd, A. Maeder and K. A. Grimmer
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