New research conducted by a provider on community-dwelling seniors shows frailty is not an inevitable result of ageing and may be prevented or treated, as screening and online resource launched. 

The findings of the major government-funded study conducted by Benetas, which were released on Tuesday, show older women are more at risk of frailty than men.

A new online test and series of simple interventions to help seniors maintain wellbeing were also tested in the study and were launched this week.

The Australian-first research took 3,000 home-dwelling seniors aged 65 and over through the FRAIL Questionnaire Screening Tool, targeting fatigue, resistance, ambulation, illnesses and loss of weight (FRAIL).

The new screening and online resource

The study found that the frailty rate was around 6 per cent, and 38 per cent of the seniors fell into the “pre-frail category” while 56 per cent were categorised as “robust”.

Women (8 per cent) were found to have a much higher incidence of frailty than men (5 per cent) while almost half of the women surveyed were either frail or pre-frail, compared with less than 40 per cent of men.

Releasing the findings on Tuesday Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the study outlined a “life-changing opportunity.”

“Frailty detection is a game-changer in helping senior Australians enjoy a healthier and more active future,” he said.

“By taking the simple FRAIL five-point online test and following up with your GP as necessary, people have the opportunity to detect frailty before it hits, allowing them to take action to live better lives, remain in their own homes for longer and avoid potential hospitalisation.”

People classed as frail are more at risk from fall injuries, deteriorating health and premature death, but the study found that the right support at the right time could halt or reverse frailty, he said.

Interventions include:

  • modifying diet to include more proteins
  • taking vitamin D supplements
  • increasing activity, including light resistance exercises and walking
  • evaluating prescription medication intake, in consultation with a GP.

The test is available through the Positive Ageing Resource Centre website. After completing a questionnaire it provides seniors with a printable personal summary to present to their health professional.

The Frailty in community dwelling older peopleUsing Frailty Screening as the Canary in the Coal Mine study is available here.

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