The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) defines frailty as, “a distinctive health state related to the ageing process in which multiple body systems gradually lose their in-built reserves.”

BGS state, “There are two broad models of frailty. The first, known as the Phenotype model, describes a group of patient characteristics…”

  • unintentional weight loss

  • reduced muscle strength

  • reduced gait speed

  • self-reported exhaustion

  • low energy expenditure

“…which, if present, can predict poorer outcomes. Generally individuals with three or more of the characteristics are said to have frailty (although this model also allows for the possibility of fewer characteristics being present and thus pre-frailty is possible).”

BGS state, “The second model of frailty is known as the Cumulative Deficit model. Described by Rockwood in Canada, it assumes an accumulation of deficits (ranging from symptoms e.g. loss of hearing or low mood, through signs such as tremor, through to various diseases such as dementia) which can occur with ageing and which combine to increase the ‘frailty index’ which in turn will increase the risk of an adverse outcome.”

 A large systematic review published in July 2019 by Monash University in Australia found, amongst other things:

  1. “Frailty, a clinical syndrome characterized by marked vulnerability due to decline in reserve and function across multiple physiologic systems, is common among older people.”

  2. “Frailty manifests as the inability to tolerate stressful events and has been associated with adverse outcomes, such as falls, delirium, institutionalization, incident disability, and mortality.”

  3. “Frailty is also an independent risk factor for poor outcomes after surgery (e.g., prolonged hospitalizations, increased susceptibility to deconditioning, and faster functional decline)”

  4. “Although not necessarily synonymous with aging, frailty is highly prevalent among older people.”

  5. “However, a recent systematic review reported that, among the available primary care interventions to delay or reverse frailty, strength training and protein supplementation ranked highest in terms of relative effectiveness and ease of implementation.”

  6. “People who develop frailty or prefrailty may regress…” (you can get stronger)

  7. “…not all older people develop frailty…”